Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Hoke Fest: An Epic Day Of Beerdom

To date, this is the local beer trip of local beer trips. We wanted to treat our good friend Josh Hoke (Head Brewer of Liquid Hero) to a relaxing (Epic!) day of Beerdom for his birthday. So we created the 1st Annual Hoke Fest - a thirteen hour, 136 mile trip covering five breweries, a cask festival, one taproom, and one bottle shop. It was so epic we even made t shirts...

1st Annual Hoke Fest: An Epic Day of Beerdom
Total driving time: 3hrs 14min
Total distance: 133 miles
Trip Type: Epic Day Long Journey
Destinations: 8
Travel Map & Directions At Bottom Of Post

Destination #1: Troegs Brewing Company
Hershey, PA www.troegs.com

As mentioned here, the new Troegs Brewery in Hershey, PA is quite the place and should definitely be on your to-do list. It offers a large selection of beers on tap, including their entire year round line up, as well as two to three selections from their Scratch series. Call ahead to book a guided tour, or grab a pint at the bar and take the self guided tour through the actual brewery. If this is your first stop on this trip I suggest being there to open the place up at 11AM. Their new Snack Bar offers some great locally sourced food, and their french press coffee is sure to wake up and prepare your DD for the day long journey.

Destination #2: Bube's Brewery
Mount Joy, PA www.bubesbrewery.com

After your stop at Troegs, head to your next (and much different) location - Bube's Brewery in Mount Joy. This is one of my favorite places to visit and I always make a point to take my out of town friends here. Grab a seat at the bar, order one of their brews, and take the time to fully appreciate this historic land mark. As far as food goes, the wings are good, and the fish tacos are really good. Don't forget to ask someone for a tour of the catacombs and upstairs hotel!

Destination #3: Bulls Head Public House / General Sutter Inn
Lititz, PA www.generalsutterinn.com www.bullsheadpublichouse.com

The General Sutter Inn is an historic landmark in operation in Lititz since 1764, that is connected to the Bulls Head Public House. The Bulls Head offers a great selection of micro beers and Trappist selections. An epic day of beerdom requires an epic event, and we were lucky enough to schedule Hoke Fest the same day as The General Sutter in Spring Cask Festival. The festival offered 16 different cask beers all by breweries that start with the letter "S". We tried selections from Spring House, Swashbuckler, Southern Tier, and many more. They host a spring and fall cask festival each year, make sure to check their websites for details and check out the fall one.

You're probably thinking: "Wow, 16 different beers did you try them all?"

You bet your ass we did.

Destination #4: Stoudts Brewing Company
Adamstown, PA www.stoudtsbeer.com

So at this point our day was already pretty epic. After the cask festival we were, well lets say in need of a reset and some food - enter the sausage sampler at Stoudts Brewing Company...

..which includes one each of the traditional bratwurst, kielbasa and weisswurst sausage, served with PA Dutch sauerkraut, red cabbage and German potato salad. Coming in at only $22 for this feast, it's the perfect snack to split with a friend. We also had a cheese platter as an appetizer - which I would also recommend. Stoudts is another unique destination and well worth the stop. The tap list includes their year round selections as well as seasonals - their Golden Lager is one of my favorite beers for summer.

Destination #5: Lancaster Brewing Company
Lancaster, PA www.lancasterbrewing.com

After our feast at Stoudts we headed back down 222 and onto Route 30 to Lancaster Brewing Company - a local staple. You see their beers at your local case store, and on tap at several locations around York. They offer a great selection at the brewery, including my favorite, Celtic Rose:

Our version of the traditional Irish Amber Ale combines the richness of malt with the delicate and spicy British hops for a taste worthy of the Red Rose City.

Malts: 2 Row Pale, Caramel, Munich 20, Vienna, Wheat Malt
Hops: Cascade, Willamette OG: 14 ABV: 5.0% IBU: 16

Destination #6: The Spring House Taproom
Lancaster, PA www.springhousebeer.com

Tired? Intoxicated? Hungry? All of those things are expected by this point in your epic day of beerdom. There is a good chance you've been to or at least heard of the Spring House Taproom. I doubt you've been there in this state of mind though, keep it together, you're almost done your epic day of beerdom. I suggest you grab a sampler and step over to the shuffle board for a few games - remember no drinks over the table. Say hello to Zoltar (remember Tom Hanks in Big?) in the back by the bathrooms and head out - as you're close to the finish line.

Destination #7: The Fridge
Lancaster PA, www.beerfridgelancaster.com

The Fridge is a direct result of the economic downturn of '08/'09. Two friends lost their 8-5 day jobs and took a risk. The result of that risk is The Fridge, an amazing bottle shop that offers both unique and classic takes on flat bread pizza, a nice tap list of about ten beers, and the largest bottle selection I've seen locally. If you've been searching for something, there is a good chance their selection of over 500 varities has it. The Fridge is a great stop in this epic journey, but is also a great Saturday afternoon lunch destination.

Destination #8: Iron Hill Brewery & Restaraunt
Lancaster, PA www.ironhillbrewery.com/lancaster

Finish line...I'll be honest, I wasn't sure what to expect from Iron Hill. Is it a brewery? Is it a restaurant? Usually when I see the words "Brewery & Restaurant" I translate that to "mediocre beer & generic food". Not the case with Iron Hill - at all. I was really, really impressed with all aspects of Iron Hill. The beer selection was not only huge, but full of quality. The service was great, training for their servers includes tasting, food parings, and general beer knowledge. The food is also very good, I went with my usual fish 'n chips.

We left Iron Hill and got back to York around midnight. It was a long day since we were at Troegs at 11AM. You can try to do this in one day. Don't plan much for the day after though. All of these stops are great places to visit, each with a different and unique experience. A huge thanks to my wonderful wife for being our DD for the day. If you do decide to take this trip, let me know how it went, or feel free to email me at travelsinbeerdom@gmail.com for info or logistic questions.

And remember, always, ALWAYS have a designated driver.


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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Changing It Up / Baltimore Bound

In an effort to make this page more of a resource instead of just a digital journal of my beer adventures, I've decided to offer more information about the places I've been, how to get there, travel, et cetera. I started doing this with my reviews of the places I went to while in Austin (granted Austin TX isn't Central PA) My hope is that you will eventually be able to use this page as a resource - want to do a 5 hour brewery tour of Lancaster PA, here ya go. It's Sunday afternoon and you want to visit a brewery, but aren't sure what ones are open and where are they, I got ya. Or you want to take the EPIC Day In Beerdom Hoke Fest Trip that consists of drinking for 13 hours straight and visiting about a dozen breweries / bars - I've got ya covered on that too...any comments on format or suggestions in general are welcome.

Baltimore Bound
Total time: 4 hours
Total distance: 115mi round trip
Trip Type: Single Afternoon / Lunch
Destinations: 2
Travel Map At Bottom of Post

Ask anyone that knows me and they can tell you I like beer, ask the people that know me a little bit better and they'll tell you I also like rum, Bermudian rum, old Bermudian rum... Joe Squared is one of Baltimores finest rum bars and also offers a great list of micro brews and great coal fired square pizzas. Stop in here before lunch for an appetizer and some selections of rum. I recommend the Gosling Old Rum, but we've already been over that.

Joe Squared (Station North Location)
133 W. North Avenue
Baltimore, MD 21201

Atmosphere: 4
Beer Selection: 2.5
Beer Quality: 3
Food: NA
Rum Selection: 4

From the moment I first saw the black and white logo of the Hudson Street Stackhouse it instantly became one of my favorite logos. Then I saw the actual stack house infront of the place, and it gets a thumbs up for realistic accuracy as well. Just a few blocks away from Fells Point in Baltimore, the Stackhouse offers an amazing selection of beers. Full pints or get a flight of samples, it's up to you. Great atmosphere and THE BEST BBQ CHICKEN PIZZA ever, and that's quite a statement for me - but it was, the best. After Joe Squared head here, order a few samples (they had plenty that even I had never tried) and order the BBQ chicken pizza, just do it, trust me.

Hudson Street Stackhouse
2626 Hudson Street
Baltimore, MD 21224

Atmosphere: 4
Beer Selection: 4
Beer Quality: 4
Food: 5

So there it is, the new format. Simple and informative. Planning on taking this trek? Let me know how it was, and if / how useful this new format was on your journey. Below is the Google Map with full directions - aren't the interwebs awesome.

Thanks Jack!

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You Love Me! You Really Love Me!

Remember this?

So this is a heavy beer...here 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.

Just over a year ago, I brewed the strongest beer I've ever brewed. The Double Play is a 10.8% ABV barley wine, brewed in the summer and intended to be enjoyed in the cold witner months. I dry hopped three gallons of it with a bunch of Simcoe (credit is due to my buddy Jack, as dry hopping was his idea) and was really pleased with the final product.

Turns out, some others thought it turned out ok too, because it won 3rd place in the Dark Ales and Lagers Category at this years annual York County Heritage Trust Homebrew Competition that coincides with they annual Micro Fest.

Having not brewed since August, I needed a kick in the ass - this was that kick. Thanks to all the people that gave my beer good marks and for the York County Heritage Trust for the opportunity - see you next year.