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 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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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

That reminds me...

...Granted i haven't checked all of the usual sources, but I haven't heard much word of this out and about: Tom @ Ron's in Exton tells me that he is doing a cool Victory event this Friday night from 7 - 9pm with a ton of Victory taps including one of the only kegs of Wild Devil for miles and miles.

I'll be a Tiki man, but its definitely worth getting out for a taste of Victory's cool lil experiment. I'd be really curious to see where it is at this point.

Saturday's Battle of the Brewery Bands at Stoudt's looks like its gonna be a great time too. $20 to get in and it all goes to charity. Mr. Lew's got the whole skinny, here. Read more!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Imperialize Me

Somewhere between hype, leg work, and a little bit of timing, good things do come to those that wait. Sometimes that means a road trip to another state to wait in line, other times that means waiting for the right opportunity to simply present itself.

Before i ramble on again (funny, i post less but let my thoughts wander more) i'll just get right to the point. And that point is that a few of us got together to drink rare beer last night. The cause for celebration? Call it a house warming, call it realizing how unique of an opportunity we had, call it an excuse to listen to a Ryan Adams it whatever. Last night beyond a big plate of cheese sat three beers that you don't see in the same room too often. So we put them to the test against each other. Nothing rigorous just some good ol' fashion, "I like you better than you, but i like you better than both of you."

A night of mighty and limited Imperial to

The Abyss - Deschutes Brewery Portland, OR

My night started with Abyss. A really roasty Russian Imperial Stout. The 11% was masked pretty well and this had a lot of deep flavors that kept presenting themselves as it warmed. We started these bottles all out pretty warm as it was, so first sips weren't miles from last sips, but still each had a chance to show itself a bit differently from the top of the glass to the bottom.

Kate The Great - Portsmouth Brewery Portsmouth, NH

If you go to that website, you might actually be able to find Mr. Steele somewhere in there. He made the drive and did the wait and brought Kate home to PA. There's a bit of write up on Kate's big day on there too. This was a great Imperial Stout, less roasty and more on the deep sweet flavors that i enjoy, this one was worth the hype for me.

Dark Lord Imperial Stout - Three Floyds' Brewing Co. Munster, IN

I drank this one second, but reserved comment until now, because it was my favorite of the night. We did a lot of talking about how to taste these beers. Blind, side-by-side, one at a time and ended up all just doing what we preferred. If i'd have gone blind i still definitely would have put this at the top of my list. No fancy label's gonna tell this guy what he likes. The Dark Lord, in my opinion, is just in a league of its own. Thick and almost a bit gritty, this was as viscous a stout as i can ever recall having. A bit hot, but only a bit, everything worked really well together here. It's like a beauty pageant of dark malts.

On the drive to Hellfish Headquarters i was wondering if any or all of these were going to live up to all of the hullaballoo that surrounds them and i would say that they were all really, really good beers, but the one that definitely took hold was the Dark Lord.

And the storm that rolled in during this whole thing was just awesome.

So for those interested, this is a link to Beer Advocate's 100 Top Beers on the Planet. It is an ever changing list (sort of) that represents the most highly reviewed beers on their website. I post this for obvious reasons and for those who don't care to click i will just tell you...the beers we tasted last night apparently represent 3 of the 5 best beers on the globe. Now thats just good ol' fashion fun.

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Friday, July 18, 2008

You'll have to do it for me.'s the third Friday of the month and you know what that means.....Firkin Friday at Sly Fox. Get yourself down there for some Blob Ale au` natural. This Blob is a good bit roastier than last year, i'm gonna miss it unless casks go elsewhere as they did last year.

A lot of events that i missed out on this week, a lot of good stuff going on this weekend. Beat the heat with a nice cool beer. Read more!

Monday, July 14, 2008


There are certain ways to do everything. The right way, the wrong way. The road most traveled, the road least. Calculated, unadulterated. Everyone’s got their something.

When you think about something enough you tend to idealize it. No matter what it is, you want to experience it certain ways, you want to relive it as memorably as possible, you want to hang on feelings and relive discoveries.

We all get to points in time where we understand things through our own exploration, but sometimes the sum of all of our understandings teaches us more than we can research and discover on our own.

I was a guest tonight in something that’s been going on for a quite some time and while the beer was amazing, I realized that its what the beer leads people to do that might just be more important.

So I just wanted to say two things: Thank you & see you next week. Read more!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

(Steal Your) FACE OFF

Finally after weeks of anticipation, the gloves are coming off. It's time to put the Cinnamon Chex theory to the test. Tonight at TND the Avery 12th Anniversary Saison will face off against the De Struis Struiselensis bacteria beer. If anyone wants to join in it would be awesome to have another bottle of Avery 12. Going back to '05 on this one.

Tasting notes to follow.
And here is the rest of it. Read more!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Foxes and Ovals - Chasing Your Tail

Are you going to be driving down Rt. 100 tomorrow? You are? Perfect. So is Sly Fox's Brian O'Reilly. He'll be at the Drafting Room with 5 beers from his IPA Prjoect, so if you need a hops fix, check him out. Info here.

And after you're done there why not spin right around the corner and check out Ron's Schoolhouse Grille for some Dragon's Milk on tap? It's pouring right now and it is mighty good. The folks at Ron's, among a slew of others, are also carrying New Holland's Mad Hatter IPA and Sun Dog Amber on their bottle list. The prices are super friendly and you can grab yourself an Oval while you're amidst the glass and concrete and stone. Sounds like a pretty good Thursday to me.

Unless you are part of the Ortino's Rain Dance Crew or TND's famed Pool Hall Boys. I see gang tensions rising already amongst Thursday night drinking crews, this can only end in beershed.

So where have i been anyway? A little bit of everywhere. More blog coming, there's exciting things on the horizon.
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