Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Start 09 off on the right foot.

News from the Monk's website...

20 Stouts on tap on New Years Day including a special dark strong friend of yours and mine: Dragon's Milk

Doors'll open once you can officially say, "Good afternoon" and they're filling all of their taps with stout. The list on their site is looking pretty darn good and i know i will be there to celebrate. Will probably toss in a trip to Local 44 in for good measure on the way home too.

Anyone looking to join in the fun can contact me in all of the usual ways. Read more!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Three Cheers for Keller Pils

At one point when this blog was born i was thinking about a year end wrap up or award ceremony or something. Not gonna happen this year. BUT, i do have one sole award to hand out:

Big Dan
for your selflessness in the line of duty, for seeing a keg of beer that could have been on tap at your house rather than a place looking to make a good showing on their opening days (which they did), and for leaving something behind for the rest of us after your famed Quality Control sessions:

The Grain Bill hereby awards you the Red Badge of Courage for decisions that ultimately led to me having a delicious glass of Sly Fox Keller Pils.

Read more!

Craft Ale House - today is the day

Some have been in for a sneak preview. Big Dan has been doing some professional combination of labor and love. The buzz has been buzzing and now there's beer in the tap lines. I am heading to the Craft Ale House in Limerick for lunch today to see the finished product. Gary, Melissa, and crew have been working hard and its time to celebrate them.

As excited as i am for the beer, i am pretty pumped to see what's coming out of the kitchen. The words 'from scratch' have been thrown around a lot and i've got sentimental ties from stepping into what used to be the Limerick Deli for lunch with my mom so my belly has been dialed into that kitchen for most of my life. Kind of cool how it works though, i used to go for hoagies and iced tea (the former deli's takeout beer selections weren't my speed even as a freshly crowned 21 year old Dr in training) and now i get to go for food and great beer. Evolution is my thing.

Hope to see folks out on this trip or the next.


Without further ado, the opening tap list:


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Cocktails to wet your whistle and thist your thistle

New Holland Brewing Co founder Brett VanderKamp with our Artisan Spirits line pouring a few drinks for the holidays.

Go Vander!

Merry Christmas all. Read more!

Picture Page Picture Page

A few weeks back Mr. Kolesar told me about the Yuletide photo contest over at A Good Beer Blog that Mr. Alan Mcleod and Mr. Stonch put on during the holidays. I had some snappy pics that i liked so i entered and good readers and friends darn if i didn't take second place in the USA category. This is pretty exciting for me as i don't do either of the following very often: enter contests, win prizes. The picture that won grand prize from Matt in Portland is really cool and will be published in an upcoming issue of All About Beer Magazine.

So here's the link, it has the two pics of mine that tied each other for second place. When you click on the barrel picture click the little enlarger button that will appear in the bottom right corner, it'll make the pic bigger and less pixelized. Both pics are from a work trip back to the brewery at New Holland, i have a bunch from the brewery if people want to see more.

Also while you're there check out all of the entries if you have the time, some cool pics to be seen. Also, i left a comment at Brew Lounge, but Bryan also won a prize for a great hops picture so let's give him three cheers. Other friends from the beer world that won prizes: Stan Heironymus and Thomas Cizauskus. Read more!

Monday, December 22, 2008

What're You Doing With Yourself After Christmas?

I am considering a caravan trip deep into the suburbs for fine beers and a bite to eat. There is an account in good ole Boyertown, PA that is about to tap Dragon's Milk, so i say a bunch of folks hop in a bunch of cars and cruise down through the wooded hills of such famous roads as:

422 West
Rt 562
Rt 29
Gamefarm Road

Feel the glamour crunching under your winterized tires.

I've got Union Jacks Manatawny, aforementioned account (waiting for the beer to officially tap to give out the name), UJs Congo, Ortino's Northside, and possibly Craft Ale House all in my sights.

So who's interested? I'd set a date, but i am kind of flexible. Let's rap about this you people of the internet...drop a comment or shoot me an email. Read more!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Dec 20 2008

Ok, posting via phone again. Hopefully I come back to this. I had a beer this week that put my palate on aim and set me up for an amazing side by side this afternoon.

Gouden Carolous' Grand Cru (cuvee van de kaiser, I believe...coming back for fact checking) set me up on a quest for malt forward beers with deep fruit notes that could warm me as I warm them in my glass.

Long story short, I ended up with an 04 Flying Dog wild Dog (10th anniversary double pale) that is the last of a case split that happened shortly after the beer's release. It aged beautifully, great body with a sherry almost wine like sturdy sweet depth that got better sip by sip. If I'm not mistaken this beer eventually became Double Dog, my favorite in the Flying Dog lineup.

An 08 bottle of Double Dog next to its predecessor to help celebrate the Yeoman's new home. The main thought here, which I seem to have completely danced past, is that one beer set my pallet up to find something great 5 days later.

Ok gotta go. Read more!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Bada bing. Dragon's Milk on tap at TJ's.

In mid-'where to go for dinner' conversation a quick trip to the TJ's Everyday website reveals that Dragon's Milk has been tapped at Paoli's finest drinkery. Consider me on my way. Well...on my way at 7pm. Read more!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


This post was supposed to have happened three times already, but finally i've got some time to post. I hit Charlotte last week and got relief from December's chilly (although you wouldn't know it the past two days) hold on Pennsylvania. Great drive down, but the second my wheels hit Charlotte it started raining and might not have even stopped yet for all i know.

When you're in Flying Saucer land you've got to stop by and that's where lunch happened. Chatted with the folks at the Saucer over fine food and some New Holland beers. I also got a sneak peek at Flying Saucer's holiday pint, all ready for inauguration:

With some good hard business before and after it was soon time to meet up with the Charlotte Beer Club. After chatting for a minute with the club's Founder Darrin Pikarsky it became clear that this thing is more of an army than a club. They have a few hundred members that can show up at any of their gatherings. Organized to the hilt and becoming moreso everyday, the Charlotte Beer Club has got the knack for keeping their beer talk completely relaxed and fun.

One member of the club you all may know is Beer Columnist Rick Lyke, who also came out for the tasting. Worth checking out if you are unfamiliar, in addition to Rick's drinks blog, is his awareness effort: Pints For Prostates A prostate cancer survivor himself, Rick has raised both awareness and funds to help further the message of the importance of prostate screening for men.

I met with the Beer Club at one of the absolute coolest places i have been to in a while, the Common Market on Commonwealth Ave. For Philly folks, its The Foodery meets the P.O.P.E. meets Spencer's Gifts. Folks can walk into Common Market and grab a sandwich, pull a beer out of the cooler, pay, then sit down with a book and hang out. A couple of craft beers on tap (including He'Brew Jewbulation on this trip) a little indoor/outdoor smoker's lounge, some old school toys and magic tricks on the racks and a ton of craft beer and wine round out the offerings. Oh and there was a DJ too.

We tasted through a handful of New Holland beers and chatted about the upcoming World Beer Fest in Columbia, SC. Some of the crew hung late, which i was more than happy to do as well and we tasted the night away. This is definitely a spot to hit if you're in the Charlotte area. Despite having to be on the road in the early AM the next morning i really didn't want to leave.

I didn't get deep into the heart of Charlotte or explore its beer community fully, but i definitely connected with some of its essential inhabitants. I love being able to go to a city i've never been to before and have a network of folks to tap into who share similar ideas about beer. I talked for hours with people who didn't know me from Lex Humphries and we had a blast. Beer club folks Chad, Chris, Kelly, John and the rest of the bunch made a great trip even greater.

For inspiration to start your own awesome beer club check out the Charlotte gang's current web activity at beer.meetup.com/196 Read more!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Charlotte Update is on its way - Free Tasting Tonight in PA

Can't wait to post a few pics and tell a little story about my quick trip to Charlotte. But i've been away from home base since Tuesday so i have to be brief here once again.

Cutting to the chase:

Anyone who wants to taste through a bunch of the New Holland lineup can come out to Goshen Beverage (right off of 202 at the Paoli Pike exit - 102 Turner Lane, West Chester) tonight. They will have a bunch of cases in stock and i'll be pouring free beer from 4:30 - 6:30. Even if you're name isn't JoeJack, it'd still be great to see you. Read more!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Making My Week

Two recent record finds and one CD that i deemed finally suitable to be listened to all the way through without me being a big baby. These have all been making my week:

Boz Scaggs - s/t

Aaron Neville - Tell It Like It Is (original version) 45 on Par Lo {1st pressing!}

Iron & Wine - Woman King EP

Read more!

4 Score and 7 Beers Tonight

Yeah i'm hopping on the train....its a great day to celebrate the repeal of Prohibition and drink some beer. I'm celebrating with 7 New Holland Brewing Co beers on tap at the Blue Dog Pub in Lansdale, PA. We're pouring the core 4: Mad Hatter, Sundog Amber Ale, Full Circle Kolsch-style Ale, & The Poet Oatmeal Stout as well as Dragon's Milk, Cabin Fever, and the beer i've been getting a lot of questions about lately....Pilgrim's Dole. Taps start flowing somewhere in the area of 6:30 or so and i'll be in the house all night long.

As we let this float us in to the weekend - One which sees the debut of the Cliveden Festival and a big anniversary party at TJ's Everyday - lets not forget that we're in the holiday season which means we've got to start planning awesome gifts. The official Grain Bill holiday suggestion is Wishing You A Merry Christmas Beer by hometown hero Joe Sixpack. If you really want to wow your friend, mate, parent, bartender, beer blogger - you might just grab tickets to the book's companion event here. Read more!

Thursday, December 4, 2008


Last night i poured beer to thirsty staffers on Capitol Hill in the building below...

...and tonight i'm at the No Libs Foodery (2nd & Poplar) pouring away around 5:30/6pm. Probably grabbing a bite at Standard Tap before hand if anyone's in the neighborhood.

Fun stuff for Grain Bill to come, but for now its all business because time is tight. Read more!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Mentally Winter - Where to catch New Holland This Week

So its December. In my head that's the end of fall and the beginning of winter. Just works out that way for me. The trees right outside of my window here are bare, which means that fall fell so here we go with the cold stuff.

Shooting down to VA for two days of events here then back home where a lot of beer will be poured.

TUES 12/2 - Capital Ale House in Richmond, VA.

I'll be at the Downtown location, all but their brand new location will have a New Holland glass night with a bunch of beers on tap tomorrow night.

WEDS 12/3 - Brewer's Association Holiday Beer Tasting in Washington, DC

Rayburn House Office Builing RM B-357. Mad Hatter and The Poet being poured in DC from 5:30 - 7:30pm.

THURS 12/4 - The Foodery @ 2nd & Poplar in Philly. The best takeout selection in the city will get the New Holland treatment this Thursday evening. We'll get going around 5 or 5:30 i believe. I'll have The Hatter, The Poet, Cabin Fever, Dragon's Milk and maybe a little something extra to taste at The Foodery.

FRI 12/5 - The Blue Dog Pub in Lansdale, PA. The Big One. 7 Beers on tap, fancy New Holland pint glasses, cold beers in the takeout coolers. If you ever wanted to acquaint yourself with the New Holland lineup, this'd be a good way to do so....

Mad Hatter
Full Circle
The Poet
Cabin Fever
Dragon's Milk
Pilgrim's Dole

Things'll get cranking in the 7:00pm hour and go until Rob turns out the lights.

Back to this winter thing...

I've decided to just embrace the cold this winter. I'm going to layer up and just go with it. I've been to far colder places than PA and while i am pretty excited to get down to the Carolinas for work soon, i'm feeling good about not letting old man winter rattle my weary bones. Read more!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

We're Back In Black

The dark beers have been tapped! Union Jacks on the Manatawny has got 12 delicious stouts on tap including New Holland's The Poet oatmeal stout. I'm seated at the bar next to Mr. Cask Ale Kev who says, "Black beer is delicious."

Come on down. Event is 1pm to close or as we all like to say: 1pm to ? Read more!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Ooooh whatcha gonna do...

... when Dr. Joel goes to Capone's all over you.

Hope to see folks there. ETA 11:15 am-ish. Read more!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Go Bryan Go

Kolesar to the finish line. Read more!

OH....free tasting today

Hello my burbian friends. I almsot forgot....

I am pouring samples of beers from the New Holland Variety Pack, featured here, today at Towamencin Beverage. 1555 Sumneytown Pike. Come hang with Charity and i as we marvel in the delights of such beer superstars as:

Mad Hatter IPA
Sundog Amber Ale
Full Circle Kolsch-style Ale
The Poet Oatmeal Stout
Ichabod Pumpkin Ale
Cabin Fever Brown Ale

And speaking of Sundog, i got word last night that Molly Maguire's, that pub at Bridge & Main Sts in Phoenixville that we know and love and remember from a recent beer dinner, has added New Holland's Sundog Amber Ale to their full time beer menu. So now in the space of about 50 feet you can have yourself some fine food and Sundog before heading next door to Fenix for a few glasses of The Poet. Read more!

Sir, That Hatter of Yours, Its Been Deconstructed

Just wanted to give you folks an update on what some of you caught and some of you missed last night at Teresa's Next Door. As promised we deconstructed New Holland Brewing Company's Mad Hatter IPA and paired up a plate of goodies that we felt brought out the layer of flavors hidden beneath each cap or tap waiting to hit 'em with the Hatter.

I showed up at TND with a bag full of goodies and a little bit of time to spare before running down to The Beer Yard to pour free samples. From a bag of rose hips to queso fresco to garam masala, we had a little spice throwdown. We brainstormed a bit and i left only to come back to Teresa's to find a really awesome menu of food that i proceeded to taste my way through during an evening of New Holland beers on tap.

Taken verbatim from the menu @ Teresa's Next Door

Fables of Deconstruction
An amazing creation from minds created by the Mad Hatter! An IPA broken down into flavor components: 8oz of Mad Hatter IPA surrounded by: Cascade Hop Tea, Honey Comb Duo, Ginger-Apricot Chutney, Lavender Brulee, Hop Brulee, Cacao & Pasilla spiced nuts.

Rose Hip Hop Hemp
A salad of mixed greens, oranges, hemp seeds, lavendar peppercorn goat cheese, in a malt, hop, and rosehip vinagrette.

India Plantains
Twice fried plantains sprinkled with Masala Curry.

Dry Rubbed
A 28 day dry aged New York strip steak rubbed with chiles and chocolate grilled over a wood fire served with barley risotto and grilled asparagus.

Quesadilla Ranchito
Corn tortillas with smoked pork, chorizo, and queso fresco served with corn salad.

Delicious food and some fun pairings. The honey comb on honeycombs really paired well with Mad Hatter. Between the texture and the sweetness and some bitterness cutting through from the beer it was a great match. Same for lavender, same for cacao and pasilla nuts. Awesome stuff and a good crowd too.

Final Note:

Bryan Kolesar from The Brew Lounge is about to end training mode and step into race mode. He's been on a beer diet leading up to his big sprint, so let's all wish him luck. The faster he crosses the finish line the sooner he can have another beer. I am actually about to make a drawing how i envision the race going. I'll post it when i'm done. Read more!

Friday, November 21, 2008

hoppin at TND

Posting from my phone here at Teresa's at the bar sipping on hop tea. The pairings are almost all put together and I am pretty excited for them. Hop brulee, hop tea, something spicy, something sweet.

Join me after 7 while we deconstruct Mad Hatter IPA and sip on Dragons Milk & Pilgrims Dole. Hope to see folks for the Beer Yard tasting from 5 to 7 and then New Holland beers at Teresa's Next Door. Read more!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Feel The Power Tonight @ Sidecar

I have been talking about and waiting for this event for months now. It's not even an event, its a party. We are throwing down tonight at the Sidecar Bar & Grille @ 22nd and Christian. Soul Food menu, Soul DJ, Cabin Fever, Mad Hatter, Dragon's Milk, The Poet. Brush those flurries off your shoulder and come hang out.

5pm until whenever you're done- show up after work, show up for dinner, show up for late night beers. Pay As You Go. If you need anymore details pop me an email or just show up.

If you're non-city bound tonight grab your first taste of this year's Christmas Beer from Sly Fox over at Teresa's Next Door in Wayne with Brewers Brian O'Reilly and Tim Ohst along side of the Beer Lass, Suzanne Woods. Read more!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

More Suburbs, More Beer, More Places To Be

File under: Things to keep an eye on.

Limerick, PA just a few short miles from where my Mother spent an entire teaching career, an old favorite is turning into a new shining beacon in the land of low flying airplanes and nuclear towers. Gary Fry and his wife hope to have Craft Ale House (located on Ridge Pike in Limerick) open on December 1st. What's now bare bones and blue prints is soon to be another great suburban beer destination.

What many local folks will remember as the Limerick Deli is turning into a 16 tap, 100+ bottle pub with fresh food from scratch and a cozy atmosphere. Cooler space is already dedicated for take out beer. Those drives to and through the suburbs just got even better. With exciting and ambitious plans for events once Craft Ale House is alive and ticking, things seem to be lining up just right at Montco's newest beer bar.

Website is under construction, but i'm sure info will be up soon.

Plenty of back roads to and from, i had an 'ah-ha' moment on my way home and cut my drive time in half. The only thing that makes me nervous about Craft Ale House? So many members of the Thursday Night Social Club live nearby. It's hard being a Hellfish these days. Read more!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Philly Folks - Two Things Coming Your Way This Week

I meant to get this up earlier for all of you folks who actually plan ahead. But that's fine, in a way, i did. Its always fun to make it up as you go anyway, so i'm inviting you to do so tonight at The Institute (12th & Green) for a bit of a Dragon's Milk sensory experience. We're dishing out flights of our bourbon barrel aged strong ale with three pairings that will tune you in to the different layers and flavors of 'The Milk'. Enjoy your beer with a cheese, a chocolate, and an ice cream pairing. I'll be in the house with Heather, Charlie and the rest of the crew for the evening and we'll be discussing all the fine details of barrel aged beer, truffles, and anything else that's on our minds. I might even bring a stack of records along for the turntables.

Then Thursday Thursday Thursday, the event to set your pants on fire (again?):


The Sidecar Bar & Grille
22nd & Christian
5pm - ? ? ?

On Tap:
Cabin Fever Brown Ale (all sorts of limited right now)
Mad Hatter IPA
The Poet Oatmeal Stout
Dragon's Milk

Soul Food menu
Soul music all night long
Pay As You Go

It'd be great to see folks out. It's been awesome being home for the whole month and this is an event where we can share some great food and drink and hang together. Read more!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Local Buds plus a little afternoon heiser

Okay this post got longer than planned, so business first instead of second. I am pouring samples of a bunch of New Holland brands in celebration of the release of our sweet fall/winter variety packs at Exton Beverage today from 4pm to 6pm. Come hang. PDGA guru Greg Ramirez might even sign your driver when you stop by.

Way back when i was going to do a series on Grainbill called, 'Know Your Blogger' and i was going to catch up with other beer bloggers and interview them and do a nice profile thing. I still think that would be a lot of fun, but right now time isn't really permitting that....ironically i sit and share beers with some of these people pretty freqeuntly, so i realize that i'm blowing opportunities left and right.

Anyhow, that said i'd just like to highlight two local blogs that haven't gotten a lot of mention here before and remind you all of a third gem that's gotten plenty of print in the Grainbill archives.

Up first is Adam and Beer Bits 2 . Adam is a dedicated homebrewer and always has entertaining and informational posts, porjects, experiments, and boughts with his own beer buying willpower up for reading on his site. Between he and his travelling, running, blogging, brewing neighbor thier hood goes uses a lot of bandwith and a lot of water. They're just overcompensating for all those neighborhoods in America with no bloggers and no homebrewers.

Next is Brian over at I Am Beer Wise . Now look, we aren't going to give Brian a hard time for hailing from Pittsburgh, rather we're just going to be thankful that we've got him over on the Philly side of the world. Brian's blog is full of detailed looks at our area's great bars and events as well as some mighty fine beer too. He and i both suffer from that strange unnamed syndrome of realizing that we go to a lot of great bars and restaurants but can't nearly keep up with all of the ones that we need to go check out. Brian's full of insight and fun stories, buy the guy a beer when you see him and check out I Am Beer Wise.

And of course, that artful dodger in his Dr. Joel's best, fall collection courderoy suitcoat: Cask Ale Kev should definitely be on all of our minds right now. He is a year older and wiser, he is coming off of a pretty serious academic probation that almost ruined his 2000's and he may go into some sort of joyous combustion at the big cask event tomorrow. Read more!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Keg Mountain, here I come

Let's put all of our beer gang differences aside and come together tonight folks. It doesn't matter if you're a Hellfish or part of the TNSC band of brothers we can all come together to share some beers and enjoy New Holland Brewing Co's winter seasonal: Cabin Fever as well as those old classics Dragon's Milk and Pilgrim's Dole.

Cabin Fever draft is going to be pretty limited until after it gets very cold outside, so this will be one of a few chances to grab up some draft. Hope to see you fine folks out at Ortino's Northside this evening. Read more!


Read more!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Fallen Bach

For you morning birds... here's the mix and the cover art. The notes are coming, i'm actually going back for a 45 min morning siesta (its weird, i'm awake but i dont need to be awake yet, so i'm going for mine).

If your name is JR. Enjoy, you're actually on here before i can email you and ask if you want to come here and download it or receive the total package.

Ok, siesta over and well worth the trip.

The Tale of the Tape

Fall mixtapes seem easy enough in concept, you know the mood you want to set, you know the feelings you want to convey; its like trying to turn something you can see and touch into a collection of songs. This summer and early autumn i've been on the road like never before. New towns, new friends, new bars, new adventures...A lot happening, but then i get back in my car for 10 hours and its just tunes and thoughts again. So many of these songs are ones i've been listening to on the road and others are ones i plan on listening to on the road a lot.

Its interesting though, in my listening to different sections of the mix i took a weird screening approach: i've been laying on my carpeted floor with a blanket bunched up like a pillow with my head boxed in by my desk. Yeah, i've been laying with my head under my desk. I started out doing mindless things like playing freecell (if you've got a particularly hard game number, give me a shout, i run the show at freecell), but my mind would drift off to work stuff or what i wanted to cook for dinner. Somehow laying under my desk eyes closed made for the best listening station. Honestly, at this point i'd recommend it.

Warmth sputtering from the heater, floor gently vibrating from the dishwasher whirring in the kitchen, and three walls of wood grain surrounding me from the shoulders up i kind of found a little apartment zen. I'm not gonna lie, i'll be going back in for more.

So there were a few albums where i really felt i could have picked any song and been just fine in the winding tracks of Fallen Bach, so they surely must be fall albums. They are as follows:

Midlake - The Trials of Van Occupanther
My Morning Jacket - At Dawn
Tin Hat Trio - Book Of Silk
Any sound ever recorded by The Band

I like listening to a mix all the way through before i look at the tracks, but if you're unlike me (how dare you...) then the track list is in the picture below. If you want a link to download the mix, shoot me an email. Also, i'd suggest opening up the blog twice since this is just one long 1 hr & 20 min track. If you click away accidentally you'll be starting the mix all over again.

Read more!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Oh so many chances to taste the fruits of the New Holland tree

Philly. Burbs. People. Friends. It's New Holland month in whatever town i wake up in lately, but hometown of mine: We've got the whole month together. I've got a lot of beer for people to taste and a slurry (how do you spell 'sloo'? slue? shlue? this is why i say slurry...plus you don't use a sloo in brewing, not that i know of) of different ways to experience them.

I'm hitting the event trail starting this coming Thursday 11/13 and never coming up for air.

11/13 - Ortino's Northside - Hellfish in Old Man Land
- Cabin Fever, Pilgrim's Dole, and Dragon's Milk will be on tap. Hang time, let's talk New Holland history and future at the summit of keg mountain.

11/14 - Exton Beverage - 4 to 6 pm - Variety Packs at PA's coolest indoor frolf course - Tasting 5 or 6 New Holland brands in celebration of the release of our Fall/Winter Variety packs. I'm up for beers at the Drafting Room in Exton afterwards for a few bottles of Black Tulip if anyone wants or i'll march East on Lancaster Ave and do the fertile crescent tour. Come out next Friday and tell me where we're going afterwards.

11/18 - The Institute (12th & Green) - Dragon's Milk flight night
If you can wrestle bombers of Dragon's Milk out of the hands of Charlie, Heather, and I then you can play too. We're pairing Dragon's Milk in flights with cheese, chocolate, and ice cream. Ideal for splitting in pairs, but solo and big numbers work too. Let's get beer on the table, where it belongs. If you hold your pinky out all hoity toity you might even get a prize.

11/19 - New Holland Beer Dinner @ Molly Maguire's - Phoenixville, PA
If you haven't seen the menu and the lineup then give yourself a little scroll down below. $45 includes 6 beers, 5 course, tax, tip. Pretty darn good. From our session beers to some of the big boys, there will be a lot to taste at Molly's.

11/20 - SOUL POWER @ The Sidecar Bar & Grille
- 22nd & Christian - Philly
Man, i am so excited for this one. Poet Oatmeal Stout, Mad Hatter, Dragon's Milk Cabin Fever, Pilgrim's Dole - Soul Food & Soul Music. I could really use a lot of my Philly friends at this one. It's going to be a blast. Pay As You Go. And go. And go. And go.

11/21 - Beer Tasting with the boys at The Beer Yard - Wayne, PA
I'll be pouring 5 or 6 beers again to further celebrate and puncuate the variety packs. 5 - 7pm

Then walk with me folks...

11/21 - Deconstruction: Mad Hatter IPA - Teresa's Next Door

Andy D, Teddy, and i will be picking apart Mad Hatter piece by piece and pairing foods to its flavor components. 7:30 pm and on. We're gathering in the front of the house. When all is said and done i may crack open a bottle of Dragon's Milk too. If you can't wait, hop over there right now and grab some.

Then its all quiet on the eastern front as i count down the days to the greatest holiday of them all....Turkey Day. Wow, my thoughts on this amazing day are worth a post of their own.

Black Friday at the shhhhh spot. I may have a beer on tap, not sure yet. But i expect to see many factions of many Philly beer crews at this one.

Black Saturday - 11/29 - Back In Black - Union Jacks Manatawny
Another one of Tom's great events. All stouts all day. I'll have The Poet on tap and will be ready to go into a lovibond coma. These events are always packed and we'll all be in the holiday mood. So lets have some stout.

That's right pilgrim, it doesn't stop in November. December's got more distributor tasting, New Holland at The Foodery, and a crazy pub night in Lansdale with 7 New Holland beers on tap and people taking home New Holland pint glasses. Come celebrate great craft beer with me at any of these events. Its going to be a fun, long, crazy month. Read more!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

5:30 PM, All Dark in Chester County

I've been sitting at my computer since about 1:30 this afternoon. It's fall mix CD time and that requires my immediate attention today. The bathroom and kitchen are a little less tidy than i'd like, but this is far more pressing. Mr. Harvey Portveurte dropped, 'The Fall Classic' on me when he swung in from Chicago last week and its tight. It's not that we compete in these mix CD matters, but more we inspire each other to shake the laziness off and stay in our apartments for entire days handpicking tunes for our CDs. I've got my title, i've got my prinicple photography done, and i've got an intro plus 6 tracks worked out. I think i'll spice things up here at Grain Bill and upload the mix when its done. I'm giving like that in these days of Autumn and World Effing Championships.

For now, you get two songs that've been stuck in my head all weekend.

In closing, Parkerford Brewing embodies the spirit of fall. Read more!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Come Ye To Phoenixville

I've mentioned it many times, but i like my little town of Phoenixville. There's always a little bit of bustle going and little by little that bustle gets exponentially cooler and cooler.

So its with great pleasure that i announce a New Holland Beer dinner in Phoenixville at Molly Maguire's on November 19th (changed from the 11th due to other things happening 'round the town). Hopefully for some of you this picks up where the Bridge Street Tasting series left off. The menu is a fun combination of Molly's cooks showcasing their talents within the traditions that root the normal menu as well as stepping outside of that realm to strut their stuff with seasonal and beer focused dishes as well. This was a fun collaboration and i can't wait to sit down to this dinner.

Chef Robert Cloud will be speaking about the food and about Molly's and i'll be speaking about my brewery and how our beer is working with Robert's creations. Tickets are being sold in advance and you've got a couple of weeks to get your act together.

Between the Farmer's Market, my dear old Cheese! (still sad its gone), Iron Hill, and the great restaurants of Bridge Street, great steps are being made in town to add to and advance folks' knowledge of good honest food and drink, i think this will be another big flag to run up the pole.

Beer Dinner
at Molly Maguire’s
Tuesday, November 11, 2008 @ 6:00PM
Hosted by Molly’s Chef Robert Cloud
and Joel Armato from New Holland Brewing Co.

Featuring New Holland’s…

Sundog Amber Ale
Golden Cap Saison Ale
Ichabod Pumpkin Ale
Poet Oatmeal Stout
Mad Hatter IPA
Dragon’s Milk Ale

Five courses of delicious fare accompanied by six selections of award-winning brews.

Tickets are $45.00 (including Tax and Gratuity)

To purchase your tickets, please see a member of Molly’s staff or call (610)933-9550.

Dinner Menu…
Toasted Black Bread w/ Smoked Salmon and Dill Cream Cheese

Butternut Squash Ravioli w/ Tahitian Vanilla Bean Cream

Rocket w/ Black Mission Figs and Bleu Cheese Crumbles

Braised Corned Beef and Cabbage w/ Roasted Red Bliss Potatoes

Double Chocolate Brownie w/ Fresh Raspberry Sauce

UPDATE: Molly Mob members recieve a discount on the ticket price, keep an eye on your emails.

Read more!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Baker The Baker

Palled it up with the West Chester Alliance For Better Beer (WCAFBB) last night at Earth Bread + Brewery on Germantown Ave. Man, what an awesome place. The early reports came in a couple of weeks ago and word from behind the bar is that the construction on Germantown is a few weeks from being done (and its really not that hard to get around anyway) so make no excuses and get down to see the place. Mr. Baker's beers are really good, at the moment pouring a great Mild, a Pale Ale with local hops and lemon verbena, Biere D' Earth - a farmhouse, and a really nice smoked wheat beer too.

Also fun is saying smoked wheat fast in conversation, a' la "Hey, you still smoke wheat?" Try it at work.

Anyhow, the pizza is awesome. We had two, the sausage and seed and both were top notch and came out piping hot. Also a bit of a new discovery for our crew were 'hot' olives. Not spicy, rather cured olives that had been heated up. Pretty awesome.

Did i mention The '08 Olive Project? I split a big 'ol bag of olives from Keystone Homebrew and am currently brining 5 lbs of olives. They get jarred up in several forms and fashions when i get back from Michigan mid-way through next week.

New Holland Beer? I'll be posting up a flyer for fall tour as soon as i get back, some good stuff booked up and good stuff in the works. Be on the lookout for Cabin Fever Brown Ale to drop at the same time as our Seasonal Variety Pack.

Check the technique:

Hopefully i'll post from the road on this MI swing, if not, catch you folks when i get back to town. The local blog world is doing great things these days so click the links over there to the left. Also, while Uncle Jack is healing up take an opportunity to read back through some of his old posts that you may have missed. He's also got words in the most recent Mid-Atlantic Brewing News, so go out for a beer and grab yourself a brewspaper. Get well soon Jack! Read more!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Essential songs, local grub, good fish down

XPN's listeners have picked 885 essential songs and they're counting them down as i type this. I've been making excuses to be in the car lately because of this. Some good tunes going around. Although listeners of the station have a penchanct for Sheryl Crow, which i just cannot condone.

Whenever i tell someone thst i live in Phoenixville (well, when i am in Eastern PA anyway) they all say, "Oh Phoenixville is blowing up right now." I guess i agree. I like it here. When i lived here a few years back i could tell it was a few years away from really being something bigger. Some of the best cowboys have already gone unfortunately. We keep adding restaurants but not much else. I dunno. Hopefully we get more shops like Hipster Home and Earthmart that actually give people something to do after they eat and go for after dinner drinks. The Colonial is a great place for a movie or live music. I'd love to mention the other live music venue on the block but the owner has been quite cold to me on more than once and will be forever snubbed by me (although i may make an exception for Mason Porter).

Why am i saying all this? Supposed to be a lead in to me talking about the Pickering Creek Inn. They are one of the newest places for beer and food on the block. At 37 Bridge Street, the group of managing partners has a great approach to Phoenixville's dining scene. Taking the no crap on tap approach, Pickering Creek's current tap list reads as such:

Flying Dog Doggystyle Pale Ale
Bell's Two Hearted
Seadog Blueberry
Blanche De Brux
St. Bernardus Abt 12
Blue Point Toasted Lager

They've got some great bottles and if all holds true there'll be a New Holland beer on tap very soon. The seasonal menu looks awesome, I had a house smoked Texas Brisket sandwich and Wild Mushroom Gratin. I'm pointing out their attention to local detail though, with a slew of local ingredients from cheese to chicken to mushrooms. They're also playing with some mighty fine flavors over there....their fall ingredient list includes:

Eggplant, Mission Figs, Sorrel, Fontina, Goose, Oysters, Fresh Squid, Wild Mushrooms, Dungeness Crabs, and Walnut Oil.

They've got brunch, they've got happy hour with free snacks. They're doing a darn good job over there.

Lastly, my great blue beta, Alex Trebek passed sometime between midnight and this morning. He was a pretty awesome fish. I wish going to bury him by the R5 but i think i am going to do something far cooler. I'm going to put him in a bottle of Orval and recap the crown and go down to the bridge and toss him in the Schuylkill River. If you need history on the fish and the ring, click here.

So i guess those are the thoughts i've got for the day. The Epicurean's (Phoenixville) 17th Oktoberfest Dinner went off without hitch last night. Delicious food by the crew there and some mighty fine beers to match. It was great to have Dragon's Milk involved. Read more!

Layover beneath the great krausen in the sky.

Ok, so i wrote this on my way home from GABF and somehow never got a chance to post it. Sorry for the delay to those actually paying attention. To those who aren't, who could blame ya?

Last Wednesday shortly after taking off from O’Hare our plane climbed towards altitude and we broke through a sky full of clouds, hovering just above what looked like a huge krausen covering the Midwest. For a nerd, it was a pretty symbolic way to start the trip to GABF. Not knowing exactly what to expect both from a work standpoint and a kid in a candy shop standpoint i was fully excited to hit Denver and get out and about. No lying here: We got out and about quite a bit. There is definitely more to do during GABF week than you can possibly make, but its hard to find a clunker in the bunch.

A lot of my friends were able to get to multiple brewery tours and some of the side events at Falling Rock and while neither were in the cards for me this go ‘round I can’t think of a minute I’d have done differently. Despite the madness there was some time spent that was just downright relaxing. But anyway you’re here for the beer so I’ll just get down to it. I will preface all this, however, with a suggestion to check out Bryan’s take on he and Patty’s adventures in Colorado. I checked in on his site and the two of them whenever I was able to during the festival and he was able to cover a lot of ground and document a good bit of it.

Ok, so what did I do? What did I drink?

Spent a good bit of time at Falling Rock, the epicenter of activity during the week. They had some amazing beers on tap: several from Russian River, Green Flash Le Freak and Saison, crazy stuff from Avery, Jewbulation from He'brew, the list goes on and my mind goes blank. A lot of Malheur floating about, La Folie here and there.

Wynkoop held a reception for brewers and they were pouring some amazing beers, I missed a La Folie / raspberry mead blend and Hoperation Ivy, but had Hop 15 on tap. I also had the Wynkoop Schwarz that would go on to win a gold medal.

Cheeky Monk had a tap list that was inspiring to say the least…erhm Kwak. They had Ommegang Rouge and Chocolate Indulgence on as well as Avery 15 just for the fest. Victory had guest beers for the week as well.

Speaking of the fest, sheesh. I just wandered when I wasn’t at the New Holland booth. I got to taste the New Glarus Berliner for the first time as well as a few beers from the very awesome Bruery from California. They had a Saison with Brett that was amazing as well as a few other beers de’ funk. Real Ale from TX (thank you Mr. Kolesar) was pouring an amazing set of beers. Triangle and Foothills breweries from down south had great things happening. Lost Abbey was pouring Angel Share and Isabelle Proximus in their lineup. I would do daring or illegal things for more Proximus.

Sad to say that we didn’t take home any medals, but both Michigan and Pennsylvania (where my allegiances lay) both did quite well. We were pouring Golden Cap, Dragon's Milk, Charkoota Rye, Night Tripper, and Existential. Iron Hill had an amazing showing, I was really happy to see them get to accept so many medals. Sly Fox's Rauch got its due and Flying Fish nabbed their first necklace.

All in all, it was a great time. I hope to make the return trip next year.

Read more!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

2 More Sessions

Seriously. Read more!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

My Post

Denver, CO.

This is where i'm at right now. The door is cracked and a leaf just blew in. I guess Denver is in fall mode, not a ton of trees to tell the story, but the ones on the back patio are making a go of it. There are still a few hours (and one UPS delivery) between us and GABF. First session starts at 5:30 pm and i am looking forward to getting the weekend underway. Got to Wynkoop and Falling Rock for the first time last night and wooped it up a bit. There a ton of people in town and everyone is in high spirits.

Beer? I missed two big ones already: La Folie blended w/ Raspberry Mead and Hoperation Ivy, a Colorado wet hop that i wanted to try. Ah well, the Hop 15 on tap was a mighty fine consolation. Wynkoops Schwarzbier is mighty nice i do have to say.

Falling Rock had it going on with Russian River, crazy barrel aged Avery, Le Freak, and tons of others on tap.

Anyhow, just stopping off for an update.

Listening to Sweet Child by The Pentangle. Mighty fine for a blue skied mid-60s early afternoon.

More on my GABF in this post. Read more!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Ales In The Outfield

Durham, NC Another big drive, another great trip through the country across highways i've never been on. Some Los Lobos, some Charlie Hunter, some String Cheese Incident. I was excited to hit Durham, but i really had no idea what was ahead. New friends, old new friends, good people and a great event were all waiting. A pre-party that got down right silly followed by burritos and like 30 college kids wearing all white. It's no wonder i got all tangled up with the Gonzo crew, it had Nelson Otto written all over it.

All About Beer is one of my favorite beer mags and it was great to see them put on an event as particular to thier cause of elevating and explaining beer as their magazine is. Breweries from far and wide took over the Durham Bulls Athletic Park on a clear blue Saturday for a day of beer tasting. Planet New Holland was in Michigan Alley on the first base line and we were propped up between Founders and Kuhnhenn. We poured a lot of beer. A lot. Both sessions were a lot of fun.

Quite a few beer blogs were well represented in human form. I really wish i could have made the tutored tastings, but it just wasn't in the cards. Rick Lyke, Lew Bryson, and Jay Brooks were among the beer writers chosen to walk drinkers through beer function specific samplings of a handful of beers served at the festival. Mr. Brooks chose Mad Hatter as part of his Burton to Brutal tasting. Around the fest there were a few special beers tucked into certain places, some easily found and some otherwise. Ahem.....

With all those empty bottles comes a lot of empty crowns and there's nothing like a good ol' fashioned Capslam. There were fierce competitors at World Beer Fest, but the presentation of the winning sentence, word by word delivered in sultry Southern, was enough to take the prize.

My volunteers were huge all day. Marie, now a World Beer Fest veteran and full time employee of The Red Cross, handled a tall order as i hopped back and forth from table tending and bumping elbows all morning.

Then Liz and Ali threw down and owned Planet New Holland during the second session. They kept the crowd entertained and coming back for more. With more catchphrases and inneundo than i knew what to do with i was sad to see the second session come to a close.

In all, i had a lot of really great conversations about beer and met some really cool folks. Got work done too in the thick of it and somehow managed to wake up the next morning and still make it back to Philly for the Bella Vista gala event.

If you're Durham folk and reading this head to the awesome Tyler's across the street from the park on 10/8 for a Mad Hatter draft event. Awesome food, awesome beer, awesome staff - Tylers is a definite must hit.

Read more!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Thoughts Random and Selected Before Bed - Durham, NC

World Beer Fest, VIP area, check this out:

Scaldis Prestige, Malheur Dark Brut, Sparks Energy thing. How great is that?

Also, Bone Crusher is a judge on Iron Chef right now??? I only saw from the comments portion of the show on, so i have no idea how the man who brought you "Get On My Level" or whatever fits into the equation.

Anyhow, a real post on WBF will follow, i just wanted to touch base.

Also in the world of commerce, my fledgling project, startup.com - A Start Up Industry has now been uprooted by a new project with my Southern cohorts....116 Distributors! We don't just sell beer, we offer I And here is the rest of it. Read more!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

I Got The Key...

...to the highway and i'm billed out and bound to go. I'm gonna leave here runnin' cause walkin's most too slow.

LOUISVILLE, KY Just days after a huge wind storm knocked down trees and a lot of folks lost power i've touched ground in the town of Louisville. I am on the hunt for Jim James, but i don't think i'll be bumping into him at the Hilton by the airport where my wholesaler showcase is this afternoon.

The picture above is highway 64 somewhere in West Virginia. Ironically, and in full Fall fashion i decided to listen to the 5-disc set that accompanied the book about The Band that came out a few years back, at some point a live version of Highway 61 Revisited came on and where Zimmy went 61 i sang 64. It was a beautiful drive and a nice break from the PA turnpike and 95, both of which i have been spending a lot of time on.

So they tell me Bardstown Road is the place to hang out in Louisville, so that's where i went in search of fine food and drink. I definitely found it in a place called Ramsi's Big menus don't always get me too excited. I don't know what it is, maybe it just feels like being at a fancy diner, i dunno. That said, the full menu at Ramsi's is really cool. Dishes from many corners of the world allow you to experience one type of cuisine from start to finish or mix it up a bit.

I started with the Bostia, a Morrocan pastry with chicken, almonds, and honey then moved on to Indian for dinner with my Yucca Masala. It was a heaping portion of potato, garbanzo, peas, basmati rice, and apricots. It was delicious. So much so that i carted my to go box to bars all across town just so i could heat it up back at the hotel before bed. Beer selection was indicative of where Louisville seems to be at right now (based on what i saw the rest of the night), good mix of local, regional, and import. The staff was really nice and we got to talking a bit. Sounds like the beer list just grew recently and that sales are dictating the fact that craft beer is an asset where good food is served. I had Bluegrass Brewing Co's Fest through the meal and it hit amazingly with the Bastia. There was huge grain presence in the beer (tasted as good as fresh wort smells) and it lined up with the honey and the texture of the pastry perfectly. It was an mmmmmm moment.

So i wandered a bit and was guided to Nachbar. A neighborhood pub rumored to be serving The Poet. Nachbar is a cozy joint in the Germantown section of Louisville (they've got a Germantown too) full of friendly friends and nice beers. No sooner did i get settled onto my stool than Dr. Dog comes racing out of the speakers. I can handle that. 20 minutes later a live jazz quartet is working out some bop and i'm sipping on the Poet. Some interesting taps going on at Nachbar. The rarely tap bound Aventinus (with bartenders accustomed to the what it takes to pour one) and Schneider Weiss. Avery's Kaiser was on as was Cumberland Brewing Co's Porter with a nitro push. If you're in Germantown and want a Poet or Red Tulip Nachbar's got you covered.

Nachbar - Lousiville, KY

Off into the land of NHBC i go. I am pouring some of my favorites today...Night Tripper, Golden Cap, Ichabod, and most of the rest of the gang. Tomorrow i hightail it outta the deep blue and head to Durham to make ready for World Beer Fest. But not before i go on a little beer hunt of my own. Read more!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Let This Be My Annual Reminder...

A wise old bartender and i were talking last night briefly about people wanting to drink certain types of beer and even just see certain colors in their beer at certain times of the year. He, like a lot of us, can go for any style at any time of year. Now granted i'll say that as food and beer and history and culture all start to inform me of each's relevence to the others i do take satisfaction in continuing cycles, but i'll drink a RIS in July as quickly as a Pils in January if thats what my mood calls for.

So what is it about this then that makes people think that certain beers are only appropriate during certain times of year? Dark beers in the winter? Ok, they should be a bit warmer to be fully enjoyed - so we're warding off the cold. Cold, crisp refreshing beers in the summer to refresh us and battle the heat. I get that, but season by season is it tradition, marketing, or follow the leader that makes us think that these style rules are in play?

Thinking from a homebrewing state of mind i know that different weather is going to allow me to brew different things, but that is more because i am at the mercy of temperature a bit with my set up. Sure i rushed to brew a pumpkin ale during my first fall and had my fruit infused hefe during the first warm brewing months.

Food on the other hand has me completely playing by the season rules. I think things are a bit more universal in this regard though. Availability of a lot of fruits and veggies dictate a lot of menus and fueling up and giving our body what it needs to operate is a bit different of a situation i suppose. I am completely in tune with seasonal eating though. As soon as the temperature drops and the skies get painted with their normal gray you'd better believe i'll be buying can after can of Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup and crusty day old bread. Pot after pot of chili is going to come out of my loaner slow cooker (thank you Mom). I've got a snappy little French Onion soup recipe these days too.

But with beer i'm just not making the connection. Thinking about this strictly in the sense of me going into a bar and sitting down for a beer, i know that my mood is usually different 7 or 8 times out of 10. This revolves more around what i've been thinking about through the day, whether or not i'm eating, how long of a stop i'm making, etc. I don't just think...cold air, dark beer. I dunno. I'd love to hear other people's thoughts on this. I know at this point this post qualifies as rambling so my apologies.

Any how, i feel safe to say that Fall is here (even though i was sweating bullets a bit in Virginia last weekend) so i am going to offer up my little early Autumn listening list. Like food, i get dialed into these tunes directly the second the sun starts forgiving my sins and letting my walk around in a sweatshirt again. I come back to these albums every Fall and they never ever seem to let me down.

The Band - s/t (The Brown Album)
Tom Waits - Closing Time
Little Feat - Dixie Chicken
Wilco - Being There
The Moonbabies - The Orange Billboard
Arthur Verocai - s/t
Savath y Salvas - Apropa`t

This is my Fall starter kit. More to follow as we get deeper into the greatest season on the planet.

So why don't i fall in line when it comes to beer? Food, music, they make perfect sense to me in the fall, in the spring, in the winter and summer. I dunno, maybe there's some music blogger out there writing about why he or she knows exactly which beer and food to go for in each season but just can't do the same with music. Wow, i really am actually rambling right now. Fall Joel in the house.
And here is the rest of it. Read more!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Finding leaves in the cat's pajamas

Fall, this is where it all starts to make sense people. This is Jerry's "I always break even" to George's only having prune juice anbd the Ray Coniff singers when its time to seal the deal. Remember those hops i found? A cut and clear sign of the path ahead of me lo these past few days. Somehow i woke up feeling like a million bucks on Sunday morning and when you feel like a million bucks there's only one place you go...Chicago. Impromptu as it gets i spent a beautiful Sunday afternoon in my favorite city and had dinner with Mr. Porteouverte at the Hopleaf. Jackpot.

This is what's great about beer bars. The list of usual suspects when it comes to Belgian and German beers is usually similarly across the board, but so amazingly so. Knowing that Armand Debelder gets the same love in Chi-town as he does in Philly is really pretty darn cool. So one of the things that sets these places apart is regional availability. And for a guy living on the East Coast the tap list at Hop Leaf left more options than me and my 2 1/2 hour drive could responsibly set about tackling:

Surly - Furious
New Belgium - Eric's Ale
Three Floyds - Alpha King, Gorch Fock
Ommegang - Rouge
Gouden Carolous - Hopsinjoor

These beers are on tap. ON TAP!

Sure we get stuff that mid-westerners drool about and west coasters dream about, but man that's a hot little list and that's not even half of it.

Hopleaf had one PA beer on their list. Prima Pils from Victory. Rightfully so.

They have Dragon's Milk in bottles so Mr. P ordered one up for dessert. I love drinking Dragon's Milk with someone for the first time. Even people who know their barrel aged stuff are still taking back by it.

The food at Hopleaf is definitely worth the trip. Beer food (not bar food) in really well done way. He the steak frite and me the pork stew. The classic sausage sampler app with mustard. We won.

So back to work on Monday in the fine town of Grand Rapids, MI. Lunch has to happen somewhere and i am really glad it happened at Hop Cat. The place is beautiful. Great bars just have that feel. The tap list is amazing in there, a combination of awesome local breweries and regional rarities. They're big New Holland supporters. The owners of this wood covered beer haven were out having a good time at Autumnfest, so i was really glad to see their place in person and try Short's Bellaire Brown which was so eloquently described to me just 48 hours prior. It was delicious.

Lunch here was top notch (i'm eating good these days and my belly is living proof) for me: Mac-n-cheese with Andoullie and roasted red peppers. For my fellow Beer Ambassador: A burger with Applewood smoked bacon, jalepenos, and cheddar. The attention to aesthetic detail in the Hop Cat really had me reeling. The ceiling looks like a floor except for the fact that there's art hanging from it. Homage after homage to the great musicians time has given us. The list goes on. It's an amazing place.

The hops led to the hops you see. It's all very clear. This is fall calling, i am at your front door. And here is the rest of it. Read more!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Chill Time 66 East 8th (Before The Storm)

It's one of the biggest days of the year on planet New Holland Brewing Co. Autumnfest has already wiped the sleep out of its eyes and is cleaning up the house for you to come over. 35 taps, Ichabod on cask, Natchez Trace, Robin Moore, and Whitey Morgan will all be playing...hopefully there'll be some Maple Porter from last night going around, chickens by the half will be grilling out back and that's just the begging.

The Niche and Lynn Thompson warmed things up in a big way last night and there’s nothing to do now but watch your clock and show up at 3pm. I’ve got Asian pears and Bialy’s from the farmer’s market and I’m catching a quick nap before jumping into the fray.

On the Keystone side of things, I’m convinced people in Pittsburgh don’t actually go to bed. Everytime I head into that town time has a way of disappearing. I got to hang out in some great bars in town and Chef Jason at The Pines Tavern has an amazing fall dinner menu that you’ve got to check out if you’re remotely close to the PGH. He’s got a new toy on site, so come check out some smoked dishes on the menu. I had grilled pork loin that he smoked and brined, then grilled with New Potatoes, Arrugula, Crumbled Bleu Cheese with Red Onion Marmalade and Pear Butter. Lisa Donaldson, The Pines’ Beer Director has a suggested pairing of Skullsplitter which probably works brilliantly, but I was wrapped up in a bottle of Mad Hatter for my meal with The Poet for dessert. Dragon’s Milk and the just mentioned Oatmeal Stout show up as pairing options for the dinner menu, so head down for some New Holland and some seriously good eats.

Magoo’s on Perry Highway is still holding strong with our Sundog on the menu and their always exciting Nintendo and free tots deal on Thursday nights. Magoo’s always seems to be the launch pad for my Pittsburgh craziness, doubtfully a coincidence. Read more!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Teeted (Is That Wrong?)

Be ready for the realness. Dragon's Milk is on tap at The Drafting Room's Exton headquarters right now. I think they tapped it to celebrate the fact that i am out of town for a while. It's our barrel aged strong ale. A bit of roast, big vanilla notes coming across as it warms. Velvety smooth. The Hollands are there drinking it RIGHT NOW.

Go say hi to the gang there and grab a glass.

In addition...things are happening. What kind of things? Oh i dunno, just me hitting a deer about a first down away from Sly Fox at 4:30 this morning on my way to Pittsburgh. Meeting Drew at Piper's Pub who has got an amazing DIY cask system running in his pub (Black Strap on cask...i beg for your mercy) and i have pictures to follow. Dinner at the Pines and hopefully Magoo's Pub to follow for some Mad Hatter. It's Pittsburgh day for me before the haul to Holland for Autumnfest, the aforementioned rootinist, tootinist, fall festivus out there.

Read more!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Saddlin' Up

Welp, i'm outta here. For a few days anyway. I'm gonna see the finer seeings in the Iron City before tugging on the reigns and heading to Holland, MI for New Holland's Autmunfest celebration. I may have mentioned it, but i love fall.

If'n you're in western Michigan on Saturday, c'mon down to the brewpub at 66 East 8th Street in Holland from 3pm till the lights go out for bands, food, and 35 New Holland beers. Ichabod is the man of the hour and there'll be casks pouring and taps flowing. Fred Bueltmann vs. John Haggerty in Beer Smackdown II is a must see and samplings of Ben Fris' amazing spirits are a must taste.

If'n you're closer to the ranch, well fella there's plenty a brewin' round these parts as well. Ichabod is still pouring in and out of the city, Brigid's is throwing down this whole week and The Beer Lass will be hosting beer trivia tonight at 8. If you're in the city Thursday check out Ichabod and other pumpkin beers at The Foodery's (2nd and Poplar) tasting. If you're in le' burbs on Thurs The Drafting Room in Exton is tapping a firkin of Flower Power and from what i hear Pliny The Elder is pouring in Wayne, PA. Ron's Schoolhouse has a ton of Fest beers on, and Cask Ale Kev tells me that TJ's Everyday is pulling pints of the Ballast Point Porter.

Enjoy, catch y'all from the road. Read more!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

A Pickin' and a Grinnin'

Guess i should've known this morning at the farmer's market when Fiddlin' Ted and a bunch of others were playing Midnight Moonlight, that it was gonna be an almost Fall kinda day. Temperature excluded, things are seeming like they're about to get all Autumnal on us. I'm ready to roll.

Anyhow, after picking some veggies and ground cherries at the community garden with my favorite farmers i went to check out the somewhat abandoned hop trellis. A phone call was all it took to find out that it was ok to save some hops from becoming shriveled brown cones like the rest around them had become. They may have time to land in the Yeoman's kettle, but if not i'd like to get them to a good home. I can't brew till November, so get in touch if you'd like a little something to toss around and flame out. I'm guessing Cascades and somethings.

And just because i had the camera out... The Farmer's Lunch.

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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Let me tell you about this bar....

So we're all at this point where we now seek out bars. One's got a killer bottle list, the next one does amazing events, then next one has the best service, while the next has the best food. It's not an experience unless you bring someone along.

I love these bars, i've had great conversations, revelations, and discoveries in many of them. Some are staffed greatly while others have charm that allows you to drop your normal guard a bit. A lot of time, effort, borrowing of favors, and strategy goes into all of them. Things have to be just right so that every little dude with a keyboard can't tarnish the name of the next best beer bar in town.

So let me tell you about this bar. It's definitely not the cleanest (doggie toys and an incomplete home gym were a major part of the decor on my last visit), its not in a great neighborhood, I don't know that there's a single piece of cutlery in the whole building, and we had a hell of a time figuring out whether or not they were open on Sundays. No website, not much of a reputation, never mentioned in all of the beer bar talks, easy enough to miss unless you are really looking for it.

It's perfect.

The place serves beer and beer only, has a mostly free jukebox, and basically feels like some old clubhouse where you can step into the back room to play darts and feel like you're at a buddy's house after yet another grueling day of high school.

The beer selection is modestly good, they're not keeping up with every quirk and nuance, but they definitely do not disappoint. Tapper, the bar dog was absent on my last trip, but chances are the 'ol dog will be lazing around next trip. The place has the ramshackle feel that i love in a bar, but with way more old school Trappist schwag than i've seen in any of my favorite stops.

I couldn't imagine anyone not feeling comfortable in this place. Bright red leather couches with a coffee table and a deck of Trivial Pursuit cards, older than dirt arcade games, and a lone toaster oven behind the bar. The place is magnificient. Local art work hangs on the walls and a random issue of Playboy is just lying around.

At first i was going to name the bar, maybe even give out the address, but i figure i'll let folks guess...who knows i may find another great bar or two in the guesses. I will say this. I've been there, at most, 5 times in my life and its very close to the top of my list of favorite bars on the planet. Read more!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Pouring in the land of dusty lamps and good eats

Got plans for this Saturday? There is a lot going on out and about and the further you sink into the suburbs the more interesting it gets. Union Jacks is having their Saisons In The Sun festival which is going to include the PA debut of Golden Cap Saison from New Holland Brewing Co. Tom, Justin and Company will be pouring from our bomber version of the Saison which was bottled with chardonnay yeast and made with 2 row as well as unmalted Spelt from Lentz Farm in Washington State.

I will be a little further down the road on Saturday. I am heading to the land that brought me such vinyl finds as Albert King's 'King of the Blues Guitar' and Miles Davis' 'Saturday Night at the Blackhawk' on the cheap*. Yes i am headed to the Antiques Capital of the USA. Adamstown, PA....home of Stoudt's Brewing Company and a lot of dusty desireables.

I'll be pouring Mad Hatter IPA, The Poet Oatmeal Stout and debuting Ichabod '08 two days before its official release. It's gonna be a great time in Adamstown and i'll be letting my freak flag fly with Born Cross Eyed providing heady tunes all the live long day. Sessions are from Noon - 4pm and from 7 - 11pm.

Info here...not sure how updated the brewery list is though...a certain Michiganic Brewing Powerhouse is notable absent. See you folks at the Micro-fest.

* Story I'll tell you over a beer sometime #4....the day i tore through Adamstown on a vinyl mission and discovered This American Life all by about 2pm. Only ask about this if you are a big nerd like me.

And just because.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Stuff that Rocks

So i know the trend has been that i haven't been nearly as active as i used to be here at the Grain Bill. I've been trying my darndest, but i can assure you all that what i've lacked in time bringing you beer content i have made up for by trying to make your trips to the bar and to great restaurants that much better by slinging a roster of really great beers.

This is sort of a quick blast of all the things that would be blog posts of their own if the time was there for me to sit down and blog as they were happening. So consider us on our way to being caught up. The following things just freakin' rock:

TJ's Everyday and their mac and cheese. Oh and their $6 DFH 120 on tap. And their Rodey Grand Cru that's still hanging on. And their Southampton Saison.

Hold The Rope. Jesse Chew is an extremely nice guy and i'm glad i got to meet him the other day. The team of Hess, Campolos, and the rest of the Teresa's crew put on an awesome Beer Auction and raised quite a bit of scratch for the cause last Saturday.

The Pines Tavern in Gibsonia, PA. Wow. What a great restaurant with their own garden for produce. Jason and Lisa put together an awesome beer dinner and the staff is top notch. In the 'burgh 'burbs this spot is a definite winner.

Magoo's in Cranberry, PA and their growler filling ways.

The Bowen Crew for being so very awesome and fun to hang out with.

I had to come back for this one because i remembered last night. Jeff Bearer and family of Craft Beer Radio fame definitely rock too. They came to hang out at the Pines to talk beer and food too.

The town/city of Greenville, SC. Such a cool town. Blue Ridge Brewing Co and Jay Simpson's ESB, Barley's enormous and awesome taphouse, and the coolest restuarant / record shop The Bohemian. If you are ever in that neck of the woods you've got to check out Trip and his menu.

All of the cool and dimly lit bars of Columbia, SC. Thank you for the grappa kind sir. That record shop in 5 Points is trouble as are those rowdy Jersey transplants from the wine shop.

Grapevine is the place to be in Fort Mill. Best take out beer and small plates for miles on end. Read more!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Best Beer Month of my Life

July? Who'd've thunk?

I don't know what happened, but between 2,000 miles and a handful of states, this turned out to be the best beer month ever. Through miracles of timing, USPS, and plain ol' dumb luck i tasted more rare, delicious, and all but mythical beers in this July that's marching out of town than any single month i can remember. Saison Session is still in season, but this goes far beyond any quest that i can just set in front of myself. This has to do with a lot of the rabid animals that i keep company with. I'll keep it to only one example of rabidity...one of the beers listed below was filled into a growler in Minnesota, mailed to Pennsylvania and enjoyed all within a matter of days. That's awesome.

I'm writing this from a BBQ shack just outside of Columbia, SC so you'll have to excuse the fact that the proper planning to prepare this in true editorial fashions has been forgone in pursuit of 'Q. (Note: Look up Carolina Hash, i literally just took my first forkfull ever.) (Note: I just took the second forkfull, this stuff is darn good.) I'd have loved to bring this to you beer by beer or session by session, but anything in list format is on the internet and the internet is back in my hotel room.

I can tell you where this trip began and i'm sitting here watching it draw to a close as i wonder if i can find a Green's or Total Wine they close. There's got to be one great beer left in this town before Time's grubby paws take July away for good.

July 1st - Holland, MI

On the first it was my second day. I'd been an employee of New Holland Brewing Company for just about 25 hours. I was due to meet Phil the Eventinator at the brewery for work and after watching him prep caustic (and thinking some just splashed on my hand) he sent me out into the brewery where 'far more interesting things' were happening.

A quick wander proved so so true. It turns out that barrel aging calls for a fair amount of quality control. Makes sense, i mean you can't see what's going on in there, you've gotta take a few tastes to make sure things are as they should be. I didn't get to stay too long before my duties took me elsewhere, but tasting Dragon's Milk straight from it's bourbon barrels was deeply amazing.

From there the rest of my time in Holland was spent learning and lapping up any Hatter Days leftovers i could get my hands on at the brewpub. From memory the Black Hatter, Rye Hatter, and Smoked Hatter are most prevalent. I also got in a few glasses of Golden Cap, our new saison and it is a real winner. I came home with a ridiculous amount of beer too. Marciacabo, a few from De Glazen, and the second batch of the Tomme Arthur/ De Proeuf collaboration. Plus some singles from Great Lakes, Dark Horse, Arbor, & Dragonmead.

I can't for the life of me remember what was going at Teresa's Next Door in July. The Allagash dinner was 7 days too early and...OH, wow, i actually just remembered what was going on there. Oof, yeah i can.

So somewhere not at Teresa's but somewhere at Teresa's there were some heavy duty raers coming out. The Calagione collaboration imperial pils, Beatification, effing La Folie. File under: right place, right time. Back at the bar, i loved the Middle Ages Anniversary beer that was on and Andy's fresh as fruit bottle of Fluxus (Bob's was tasting just as great...signed, Quality Control Team). Blob was on handpump under a neighborly pseudonym, so i did get my fill. If you haven't got yours yet check Suzanne's comment in the previous post for the Blob rundown.

Gambrinus hung on long enough for me to get a glass at TJ's Everyday. I got a well deserved bag of dirt from Scotty Borgata for not being around there nearly enough as i really should. I took note and went back a few days later for mac-and-cheese and a Southy Saison.

Ok, ok enough of this. You just want to see lists, i know. I'm stuffed full of pork and chicken and hushpuppies right now. I couldn't even finish my slaw. I've got to get out of here and find a bottle of beer to end the month on. I can say that the experience of some of the following tastings was easily as great as the beer being tasted. From the "No Love For Ryan Adams Sessions" to Monday Nights to Sweatin' With The Dark Lord it was just a month beyond belief. As many beers as i can remember not mentioned above are below, remember this all happened in the last 31 days and nights......

Christmas in July Pt. 2 (i missed the first) Big thanks to Dell for his lists.

Hair of the Dog Brewing Co – Doggie Claws
Pennsylvania Brewing Co – St Nicholaus Bock Bier
Brasserie a’ Vapeur – Vapeur en Folie
Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales – Maracaibo Especial
Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales – Noel de Calabaza - Blend 5
AleSmith Brewing Co – YuleSmith
Kiuchi Brewery – Commemorative Ale 2008
Parkerford Brewing (Tom Foley HB) – Saaz Lager #123
Hurlimann Brewery – Samichlaus Bier - vintages 1993, 1995, 1996, 1997
Brouwerij Westvleteren – Westy 6/Blonde - acquired from the café across the street from the abbey on 5/2008
Brouwerij Westvleteren – Westy 8 - acquired from the café across the street from the abbey on 5/2008
Brouwerij De Dolle Brouwers – Stille Nacht - vintage 2007 -
Brouwerij Huyghe – Delirium Noel - vintage 2002 and unknown vintage

No Love For Ryan Adams - Session #1 - Snacking on the Sack (of cheese)
Vick Wick Wit - West Chester Brewers Guild's 1st batch. Awesome Witbier.
Three Floyds 10th Anniversary
*more from this one next time i have my camera handy.

Sweatin' To The Darklord
- Bow Down To Planet Earth

Some blind, some not blind either way:

The Abyss - Deschutes Brewing Inc.
Kate The Great - Portsmouth Brewing Co.
Darklord 2008 - Three Floyds

Another Monday Night - Pre-pre Ommegang

Monday Night Blind Tasting

Brewery Ommegang – Ommegang (Abbey Ale)
North Coast Brewing – Brother Thelonious
The Lost Abbey - Lost & Found Abbey Ale

Similar vintages, similar temp, similar storage

And then...

Captain Lawrence Brewing Co – Xtra Gold Tripel -
Deep Pond Brewing (my HB) – Cuvee de Wormwood – dry wormwood-ed
Norrebro Bryghus – Old Odense Ale - collaboration with Sam from DFH
Dark Horse Brewing Co – Fore Smoked Stout
Trout River Brewing Co – Chocolate Oatmeal Stout
Deschutes Brewing Inc – The Abyss
Berkshire Brewing Co – Coffeehouse Porter
De Proef Brouwerij – Signature Ale/with Tomme Aurthur - batch 2
Dr Joel’s Beer Emporium (HB) – Rye IPA –
Thomas Hooker Ales – Imperial Porter
Brouwerij De Gouden Boom – Brugse Tripel
Heavyweight Brewing Co – Biere D’Art
Brouwerij Affligem – Affligem Noel - vintage 2003
De Proef Brouwerij – Flemish Primitive Wild Ale - “Surly Bird” - #3

No Love For Ryan Adams - Session #2 - The Sausage Fest

All over an awesome spread of cheese, nuts, bread, and great grilled sausage:

Surly Cynicale
Bell's Expedition
De Glazen Saison D'Erpe-Mere
Tyranena Scurvy
Tyranena Devil Over A Barrel
Minneapolis' Town Hall Brewery Masala Mama
North Coasr LeMerle
Peche Mortel
Surly Furious
Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout
Founders Breakfast Stout
Oskar Blues Gordon
Oskar Blues Ten Fidy
Floosmoor Station's Vishnu's Vice IPA

I'll add more as i remember and check back into things. In case you were wondering i found a Total Wine in the pouring down rain about 10 mins from the hotel. I've been sipping away at a 2005 Thomas Hardy and as soon as i hop out of the shower i'll crack open a Rochefort 10 and say goodbye to a great July.

*If any of you folks had beer with me this month that i am obviously forgetting please add on.

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