Posts Tagged ‘craft beer’

Another month has come and gone….I do apologize to all two of my faithful readers who actually give a shit about what I have to say for getting this out so late.  In the month of April, 81 beers were reviewed….and by reviews, I mean actual reviews…not jerk off reviews where some asshole goes to a beer festival, has a half ounce of a beer and has it totally figured it out.  Unfortunately, this is also a side effect of too much travelling and not having anything really productive to do on the road.

Anyways…beers, beers, and more beers…..so out of the 81 reviewed last month, here were the tops for May:

Top 5 Beer Reviews for May (yeah, its only 6 this month):

 

The 5 Beer Reviews (okay, 7) that shows how everyone is trying to do a Berliner Weisse now (and poorly):

  • Old First Ward Crikrat Kolsch ~ Kolsch ~ 3.1 /5 Rating
  • Funk Brewing Crimson ~ Farmhouse / Saison Ale ~ 3.1 /5 Rating
  • Local Option Bierwerker Blood ov the Kings ~ American Wheat Ale ~ 3.1 /5 Rating
  • The Bruery Papier ~ Belgian Strong Ale ~  3.1 /5 Rating
  • Strand Brewing Ito Weisse ~ Berliner Weisse  ~ 2.9 /5 Rating
  • Ithaca Brewing Cruiser ~ Berliner Weisse ~ 2.8 /5 Rating
  • And the beer that just proves not every beer is all that rare was Jester King Brewing Bonnie the Rare ~ Berliner Weisse ~ 2.7 /5 Rating
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So this weekend was busier than hell because it was the first nice weekend that we have had since September…so on top of prepping the yard and deck for summer, I also had to contend with my daughter’s dance recital, entertaining my best friend in from Charlotte and prepping for my annual Memorial Day Weekend tasting.

As if I need more beer, boxes came flying in from all the place (making the wife not happy with me)…

The first box was a trade that I had set up with a guy that I had worked with before in one of my Sour BIFs.   The back story is not important and makes me look like a mild dick but basically, my friend Joe left a bottle of Jester King Bonnie the Rare berliner weisse at a friends house.  We happened to be there one night and I pulled it out of the fridge and he realized it was left there from a previous get together…well, he left a little early that night and we cracked the bottle open after he was gone.  Regardless of how bad it was (worst Jester King beer ever), Joe was pissed because we opened his bottle…so I felt compelled to make things right by acquiring another bottle…and this is what came in…

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Next box was the conclusion of a trade set up in September…I had a guy who I traded with last summer that was looking for several bottles of Bruery Black Tuesday.  When my allotment came in from Reserve Society in October, I had a box packed up and out the door.  After the box arrived, the recipient lost his job

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Finally was the start of what I hope will be a beautiful relationship with a guy up in the PNW.  In the past couple of years, there has been a bunch of small breweries that have popped up in the Portland Oregon area that have been making some great beers…and I want all of it.  He and I have traded before and he has participated in my Sours BIF previously.  Since my last Sours BIF, he felt that he has been in debt to me since I destroyed him with a huge box of Belgian Lambics.   Revenge is a dish served whale-ish….he destroyed my porch…

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Yes…that is 7 bottles of De Garde 🙂 with several bottles of Adam and Cherry Adam 🙂 and several Upright sours 🙂

I had a bad experience lately trying to set up a trade with someone lived in an unrealistic world with their demands….it is stuff like this makes it better.  So much for ‘cutting down’ the cellar when weeks like this happen.

It is hard to imagine that April has come and gone already, especially given the fact that the temperatures are in the low 40’s and my backyard is a pond….usually by this time of year, I am breaking out the patio furniture, cleaning up the yard and the grill.    After having a chance of getting down to San Antonio last week to slay some Texas turds, I was able to follow it up with a nice trip down to wonderful Central PA…please, hold your applause.  Anyways, here is my highest rated beers for April:

Top 5 Beer Reviews for April (okay, it is 7 again but how is that different from any other month):

 

The 5 Beer Reviews that screams out how superior sours beers are over common bullshit:

  • Pizza Boy Brewing Hop Test #1 (White Pech) ~ American IPA ~ 6.0% ABV ~ 2.9 /5 Rating
  • Mikkeller Beer Geek Brunch Weasel (Calvados Edition) ~ American Imperial Stout ~ 10.9% ABV ~  2.5 /5 Rating
  • FEMSA Dos Equis XX Special Lager ~ Pale Lager ~ 4.5% ABV ~ 2.3 /5 Rating
  • FEMSA Carta Blanca ~ Pale Lager ~ 4.0% ABV ~ 2.1 /5 Rating
  • And the beer that just proves how superior American beers are over the rest of the world was Kirin Brewing Ichiban ~ Pale Lager ~ 1.7 /5 Rating

Well, in case you don’t remember the Alamo, it is located in downtown San Antonio and quite the boring tourist attraction. I have always been a mild war history nut but the Alamo itself was kind of a let down as far as a tourist attraction went….and they didn’t even serve craft beer (now you can see my disappointment).  The building that you see before you was actually the Chapel of the entire Alamo compound and there isn’t much more beyond that, other than a small courtyard and a gift shop (which must have been built by Davey Crockett himself).

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The Alamo…..(in the basement!)

So my wife wanted to go someplace on vacation that was a heck of a lot warmer than sunny Buffalo (like such a place exists) but wasn’t really interested in going back to Florida, so we decided on taking the kid to Sea World in San Antonio TX.  What we didn’t realize that we came down to San Antonio during Fiesta…which someone described to me as their version of Mardi Gras….except with a lot less boobs being shown and more Mexicans to go around.

Fiesta goes for 18 days straight and is now loosely based around the annual Battle of the Roses, which started as a dedication parade for those that fought at the Alamo and the Battle of San Jacinto back in 1890.  When we went downtown on Monday night, we visited the Market Square where there were streets lined with vendors and several stages providing various styles of music.  We also visited the famed San Antonio Riverwalk where there was a boat parade going on.  But, by Wednesday afternoon, we had noticed that downtown was becoming crazier with half the roads being closed, bleachers being set up all over the parade route, the cost of parking doubling and every corner being crazy busy…not exactly ideal when towing around a four year old with you.

One of the highest rated and most famous restaurants in San Antonio is Mi Tierra .  Located in the famed Market Square area of downtown San Antonio, this place is know for its great food and 24 hour bakery that never closes.  The food was decent, the atmosphere was great and my daughter is a huge fan of table side Mariachi bands.  Since I was in a Mexican restaurant, it was only fitting that I had to get a Mexican beer that I had never had before…

While we were watching the boat parade on the Riverwalk, I found a kiosk nearby that was serving finger food and serving local craft beer, so I got to drink something while we watched the boat parade…

Later on Monday evening, after the wife and daughter called No Mas!, it was time to meet up with my local trader at his local watering hole for a small bottle share…or so I thought, at Big Hops Growler Station.  We managed to keep the employees up past their bed times and we’re able to crush bottles until 1am (even though they closed at 10pm).

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Big Hops Growler Station now has three locations around the San Antonio area and is a local watering hole for my TX trading partner Chris.  He managed to swindle the employees to allow us to have a bottle share there that night, for my arrival….and here is what we crushed:

Jester King Brewing RU55 ~ American Wild Ale ~ 7.3% ABV
Dark Horse Brewing 3 Pairs of Legs Maple Porter ~ American Porter ~ 7.0% ABV
Prairie Artisan Beers Bible Belt ~ American Double / Imperial Stout ~ 13.0% ABV
Grassroots Brewing Arctic Soiree ~ Saison / Farmhouse Ale ~ 6.0% ABV
Pisgah Brewing Hellbender ~ American Barleywine ~ 10.2% ABV
Bruery Griffon Bruxellois ~ American Wild Ale ~ 6.1% ABV
Bruery The Wanderer ~ American Wild Ale ~ 8.0% ABV
Freetail Brewing Ananke (2012) ~ American Wild Ale ~ 5.8% ABV
Freetail Brewing Ananke (2013) ~ American Wild Ale ~ 5.8% ABV
Lost Abbey Angel’s Share Brandy Barrel Aged (2008) ~ American Barleywine ~ 12.5% ABV
Karbach Brewing Series F.U.N. Series 008: Fra-Gee-Lay ~ Herbed / Spiced Beer ~ 8.0% ABV
Freetail Brewing La Muerta (2010) ~ American Double / Imperial Stout ~ 10.2% ABV
Cascade Brewing Elderberry ~ American Wild Ale ~ 8.1% ABV
Crooked Stave Artisan Beers Batch #60 ~ American Wild Ale ~ ABV Unknown
Ithaca Brewing Luminous ~ American Wild Ale ~ 6.0% ABV
Darkside Fermentation Flanders Red ~ Flanders Red Ale ~ 7.0% ABV
Grassroots Brewing Arctic Saison ~ Saison / Farmhouse Ale ~ 6.0% ABV
(512) Brewing Whiskey Barrel Aged Double Pecan Porter ~ American Porter ~ 8.2% ABV
Harpoon Brewery 100 Barrel Series #49: Brown IPA ~ American IPA ~ 5.7% ABV
Brewdog Paradox Springbank ~ American Double / Imperial Stout ~ 10.0% ABV
Buffalo Bayou Brewing Smoke on the Bayou ~ Scottish Ale ~ 9.0% ABV
Crooked Stave Artisan Beers Nightmare on Brett (aged in Leopold Bros Whiskey Barrels) ~ American Wild Ale ~ 9.67% ABV

 

On Tuesday, we took a bus tour around downtown San Antonio, a RiverWalk boat tour, then lunch at a downtown brewpub called The Granary ‘Cue & Brew.

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The Granary

The Granary ‘Cue & Brew has been open for several years now and feature Farm to Table proteins from several farms in Texas.  They strive to feature fresh foods while using only the best local quality ingredients, nothing off the back of a distributors food truck.  From what I can gather, he Granary has been brewing their own beers now for a little over one year now, in keeping with the same standards of ingredients that they utilize with their food too, Farm to Tap.  The interesting thing about their location is that is located in the vicinity of the Pearl Brewing Complex, which has been defunct now for many years.  It was only until recently that a company came along, purchased the entire canning complex and repurposed the property for loft apartments and retail shops but still maintain the Pearl identity.  My wife got the Beef Brisket, my daughter has the chicken and I destroyed a Pastrami Rib crusted with a cracked pepper rub…all of the food was excellent and their BBQ sauce was decent with a nice mildly smoked flavor to it.  At the time we went, they had 4 in-house beers on tap, 2 in-house pops (yes, Pop not Soda) and several guest taps…but since I wanted local beers, I grabbed these selections:

After getting blasted by 95 degree heat all day, we decided to hit the hotel and relax for a little while…and thankfully the Embassy Suites by the airport had a bar inside, so I decided to grab a happy hour turd.

Since we were still very tired from the heat and long day, we decided to stay down for dinner that night and ended up at Freetail Brewing for some pizza and beers.

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Freetail Brewing Company

Freetail Brewing Company was started towards the end of 2008 and have since then grown very nicely with a goal of making quality beers, which they have done.  Some of their bottle selections have become some of the best beers made in TX in many different beer styles with options like La Muerta, Old Bat Rastard and Ananke.  Over the past 5 years, they have grown beyond their current locations capacity and are expanding to a new locations dubbed FT2, which will be their production brewery located in downtown San Antonio.  When we arrived, as if on queue, my daughter passed out in the car about 90 seconds before we arrived, so she was cranky and tired when we entered the place.  Unfortunately, I had enough time there to order a pizza, two quick pints and pay the bill…and all within 20 minutes.  The pizza was pretty good and the in-house beers were decent (tonight):

 

Wednesday morning rolled in and we were all still pretty tired from the previous day, plus my wife still had a touch of heat exhaustion.  We were kind of dragging our asses in the morning but had to power our way through the day because we had tickets for several things that we had to do.  After jumping back on the tour bus and looping almost all the way around downtown again, we stopped at the 750 foot Tower of the Americas.  The Tower of the Americas was the corner stone piece of the HemisFair Park, home of the 1968 World’s Fair, and it listed as the second highest free standing structure in the US, second only to the Stratosphere in Las Vegas.

We decided to head back down to the RiverWalk and hit one of the highest rated restaurants in San Antonio, Boudro’s.   Set along the riverwalk, we were able to grab a table right on the riverwalk where my daughter was amused by the birds swimming the riverwalk and waving at all the boats passing by.  While Boudro’s was supposed to be known for their great food, my wife and I left both disappointed in our meals…maybe they are well known for their dinner food.  Anyways, I couldn’t come down to Texas without slamming one of these ‘craft beers’:

After lunch, we headed over to the San Antonio Children’s Museum for a couple of hours to burn some energy off then down the street to San Antonio’s famed Buckhorn Saloon & Museum.  The Buckhorn Saloon & Museum is listed as the oldest running saloon in Texas, dating back to 1881.  It was originally established as a trading post originally for all of the cowboys to blow off steam but then turned into a saloon and house of ill repute.  The interior is loaded with a ton of taxidermy and the largest collection of antlers ever assembled.  For a tourist trap, they actually had a nice tap list of local Texas beers, so I grabbed this one:

After returning to the hotel and the family passing out early on me, I had a little under two hours to get for a couple…and since I was only 10 minutes from Freetail Brewing, I decided to head back there again.

While I was there, I was bullshitting with a couple of guys and it turned out that one guy was opening his brewery sometime by the end of this year.  San Antonio Brewing Company coming soon..plus the guy was really cool about wanting to hear an out of towners perspective on the craft beer scene.  Overall, a really good place to visit with some really good pizza but the house beers were rather disappointing.

 

Thursday morning came and we decided that instead of dragging the four year old all over downtown San Antonio with the craziness of Fiesta, we opted for a two hour drive down to Corpus Christie so that we could hit the beach for the day.  When we got to the shores of North Beach, to my surprise was this fucking beauty…the USS Lexington.

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USS Lexington – Corpus Christi TX

After being at the beach for roughly an hour, the sun broke through the overcast and it was time for a beer, but the only shit that the nearby bar would allow me to leave with was this nasty gem…

During this time, my wife had the realization that her father had served on the Lexington.  As much as I would have loved to tour an air craft carrier, we were nasty from swimming in the Gulf (see BP Oil Rig Spill for more details…), we didn’t think that our daughter would want to take the tour…plus we had to meet some friend out for dinner later that night.

After getting back to out hotel for much needed showers and some quick relaxation time, we headed over to meet up with my Texas trading partner, Chris and his new bride Amanda, at a real San Antonio gem, The Cove.  This place has to be the most diversified business plan in the history of the world…maybe a close second place behind General Electric.  The Cove is comprised of the following entities on the property…a Self Serve Car Wash, Coin Operated Laundry, Ice Cream Parlor, a walk up Food Counter, a music bar, playground, dog park and 50 tap Texas Craft Beer Bar.   Yeah, it was interesting but such a cool set up…after we ate dinner in the front bar (indoors), we headed outside to let the daughter play with the other kids at the playground while the adults drank from the Texas Beer Bar.

 

On Friday, it was my daughters reason for pestering me for the past month…Sea World.  Of course, I had to grab a beer for my theme park tick on Untappd.

Every night between the hours of 5pm-730pm, the hotel we were staying offered up a free happy hour…which included PBR and Killians. Gross indeed, but the hotel bar also had some bottles (that I didnt realize until our last night there) so I decided to grab another Texas turd from the bar…

With the kid and wife passed out and our last night in San Antonio, I decided that I had to sneak back to The Cove for a couple more beers..

Airplane beer, courtesy of Southwest Airlines…

 

I have to say that when we booked this trip, I told the wife to not book anything other than the day to Sea World because I wouldn’t to do things on the fly…after everything was said and done, we did a shit ton of things…and I got to drink a shit ton of good beer.  San Antonio was fun to say the least and a nice craft beer town on the rise.

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Texas Whalez Bro…

I do apologize for being late with this post but the past four weeks has been very hectic with work and with all the travel (which included a trip to central Pennsylvania and another to Eastern PA, Maryland and Delaware), it has led to a ton of reviews for the month of March (70 in total).  Unfortunately I think my work travelling is coming to an end which means I may have to go out and get a real job soon.  Anyways, lets get to the good stuff…the good beers for March:

Top 5 Beer Reviews for March (okay, it is 7 but they are solid ticks):

 

The 5 Beer Reviews that made me realize that everything can not be a Wild Ale or Bourbon County variant:

  • Terrapin Brewing Cabernet Barrel Aged Monks Revenge ~ Belgian IPA ~ 9.8% ABV ~ 3.1 /5 Rating
  • Stewarts Brewing Citra IPA ~ American IPA ~ ABV Unknown ~ 3.1 /5 Rating
  • Left Hands Brewing Sawtooth Ale with Peaches ~ English Special Bitter ~ 5.3% ABV ~  2.9 /5 Rating
  • Picobrouwerij Alvinne Phi ~ American Wild Ale ~ 10.0% ABV ~ 2.8 /5 Rating
  • And the beer that made me wish I had chosen a better brewery other than Stewarts was Stewarts Brewing Kolsch ~ Kolsch ~ 2.7 /5 Rating

I know it may catch some of your of guard that there is an Otter Creek in my top 5 beers for this month but they must have finally realized that they can still make good beers and sell them to the masses.  I am not calling them the new White Whale brewery of the week but they have launches three straight beers that are better tan most other shelf beers or even some rarities in some cases.  Obviously, they are still no Cantillon…but few breweries are 🙂

I am seriously going to start copying and pasting my intro for each entry going forward because it is the same thing, with the exception of the location. I should take that back because it seems like the locations are going to be the same for the time being too…now comes the challenge of finding new breweries/beers to drink.

This installment of the Wandering Idiot lead me to Maryland, Delaware and Eastern Pennsylvania for another beer soaked adventure starting with a nice 620am flight to Baltimore MD. After a long day of work where it seemed like I was spinning my wheels, I was hoping that I would have made it through Philadelphia before the traffic picked up but that was not the case. Instead of trying to force my way through the city, I decided to just hang back for a while, grab some dinner and a couple of beers at Stewarts Brewing Company.

Stewarts Brewing Company is located in Bear DE, not to far from the Maryland border and the University of Delaware.  Unfortunately I could not find much history about the place other than that they have been open for almost 15 years now and have won plenty of medals at the World Beer Cup and GABF, including their most recent Gold Medal in 2013 for their Belgian tripel Stumbling Monk.

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Exterior of Stewarts Brewing Company

Stewarts Brewing company from the interior looks like a family dinner place where the daily special is meatloaf and your waitress is named Flo.  Other than the back corner room with the brewing equipment, the rest of the place just was boring and unimpressive.  Unfortunately, the beer quality was a direct resemblance of the interior…boring and unimpressive.  I would end up coming back here later in the week, drinking different selections and feeling even less impressed the second time around.

While I was there for the first time, I was sort of hungry and settle on some chicken wings and a salad.  I have to be honest that I have only had a bad salad once, to the point where I had to send it back…this time was borderline becoming my second time.  Although my food sucked, I did enjoy my final beer of the night but consumed these beers while there…

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Exterior of Allentown Brew Works

After leaving Stewarts and making the 2 hour drive up to my hotel, I decided to make a quick stop at Allentown Brew Works (home to Fegleys Brew Works).  Fegleys Brew Works was created in 1998 and home to their main brewing equipment and bottling line.  Along with many of their flagship bottled beers, they also offer in house seasonals and one offs.  The exterior as you can see looks to have been revamped at some point to open up the place to lots of natural light.  The interior is great half of the buildings West wall covered in brewing tanks and a long bar that can seat about 25-30 patrons.  In addition to tables covering most of the place, there is a second level for additional dining.  As per my typical agenda, I try to avoid the flagship beers and go for the in-house or seasonal beers but ended up drinking a decent flagship beer…on top of several in house beers too.

 

After another 12 hours plus day of work (as it seems to be going lately), I decided that I wanted to get out early for dinner so that I could crash earlier than normal (normal being midnight).  Thankfully, Bethlehem Brew Works was only minutes away from the hotel in downtown Bethlehem.   Bethlehem Brew Works is the newer of the two ‘brew works’ operated by Fegleys.  Bethlehem Brew Works was opened several years later and houses in-house beer production only.  One of the nice things about both locations is that they brew their own in-house and seasonal beers.  Unfortunately, I was not impressed by any of the beers that I had at the Bethlehem location, compared to those had at the Allentown Location.

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Bethlehem Brew Works is a decent sized building with their brewing equipment up by the front windows and between the two levels of the facility.  It featured a long beer that could hold 20-25 patrons with tables running down the other side of the building, on top of a secondary level that is wide open with more tables.  For a Tuesday night, the place was jam packed with people at 630pm…and the menu was very impressive.  I purchased a buffalo meat burger which was cooked perfectly, topped with sautéed onions and mushrooms and a spicy mayo.  Its too bad that the beers that I drank that night didn’t match the quality of the food…

After leaving Bethlehem Brew Works, I had to crack open a bomber that I purchased the previous night at Allentown Brew Works to ‘earn’ my Untappd Hotel Hopper badge…

 

After another long 12+ hour day of work, I found myself just on the outskirts of Philadelphia with some work in the immediate area for the following day.  Since I was in the area, I had to get down to a new place that is supposed to be killing it with their beers…Forest & Main Brewing Company.

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Exterior of Forest & Main Brewing

Forest & Main Brewing Company is located in the small town of Ambler PA, roughly 15 miles Northwest of Philadelphia.  They have been open for roughly two years now with the notion of being ‘that small town brewpub’ and they have maintained it well.  As you can see by the photo above, Forest & Main is situated in a small ranch style house, located in a town with a history well over 200 years old.  The interior of the house is extremely old school with old plank style floor that is so old, you can literally see through the slats into the cellar area.  The bar area is a small 8×12 room in the front of the house with a small 5 stool bar against the back wall with a small bartenders cove in what was probably a former closet.  For dinner I decided on another buffalo burger (love that lean meat…) with home made potato chips which were actually very tasty.  Here is what I had for dessert…

Since I was only ten minutes away from Tired Hands Brewing Company, I decided to give it another try.  My first experience there was less than impressive as far as the beer quality was.  I am sure that their bottle offerings are outstanding but the beers that I have had from them are nothing better than average as a whole.  So here is what I had this time…

Revisiting Hop Hands was a pleasant touch this time along with my pickle plate accompanied with a nice stick of cave aged blue cheese and thinly sliced proschuitto.

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On Wednesday, I had a really weird day which started out with having a Semi Tractor Trailer blowing his engine right in front of me on I-76, thus blowing out a huge cloud of white smoke and covering my rental car in engine oil.  The smoke from the blow out was so bad that when I was finally able to pass the truck, I had to roll down the window of the car because the smoke was very toxic and causing me to violently cough…had to get some ‘fresh’ Philly air in the car before I got really sick.  Work sucked as it typically does when I am on the road but was able to finish up at a decent time, which allowed me to grab an early dinner at Iron Hill Brewery in Wilmington DE.

Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant is a regional chain of brewpubs that is based in the PA/DE/NJ with nine locations in the tri-state area.  My sister used to live in Wilmington about a decade ago and Iron Hill was a typical stop for me…again, if I had only started reviewing beers back then instead of waiting until 2011.  Ugh.  Anyways, I remember their beers being average but the place having really good food…and it didn’t disappoint this time either, at least food wise.  I had a really solid Chicken Fajita chopped salad that was huge and tasty, properly seasoned and with solid portions of toppings and chicken.  Unfortunately, the beer quality did not match the food quality this time…

After a disappointing beer selection at Iron Hill, I had to eject early because I was meeting up with a former co-worker for a couple of beers…unfortunately, she wanted to go to Stewarts because she is a mug club member there.  Thankfully for me, they still had their 2011 Bourbon Barrel Aged Barleywine on tap which was actually pretty solid…but then I saw a new beer on tap that always gets my attention…it is just too bad that it didn’t even come close to what I was hoping it would be.

 

Good Ol’ Friday…it is very unusual that I ever work on a Friday, it is not because I am lazy but more of the fact that I usually don’t have any work leftover from the week but this week I was slammed.  After another long 10 hour day of work, I had three hours to kill before my flight back to Buffalo, so I made another stop at Frisco Tap & Brewhouse.  This was my second trip to this place and loved it the first time, so I was more than happy to make a stop here on my way to the airport.

When I arrived at Frisco Tap & Brewhouse, it was roughly around 530pm and there was not a parking spot to be had.  Thankfully, this must have been a (good) problem that they run into and started offering Valet Parking free of charge.  Yes, a brewpub that offers Valet Parking…very posh. The place was jam packed with about 90% of the tables filled but thankfully, I was able to get the last open spot at the bar. For dinner, I ordered a solid Buffalo Meat burger topped with a local sliced pickle and a chipotle mayo.  Solid as hell food along with some interesting beers.

I will probably make a stop to Frisco Tap every time I have to fly out of Baltimore airport because of its great tap selection and close proximity to the airport.  I really got to say that I was severely disappointed in the barrel aged Monks Revenge.  This was one of the first beers that I ever had from Terrapin and still like it to this day but the  Cabernet barrel really cut out of the original flavor and actually made the beer taste like a tequila barrel aged beer….I like tequila and tequila barrel beers but this one was no where even close to the quality of the original base beer.

 

 

As the running intro for almost all of my entries lately begin….work…blah blah blah….travel….blah blah blah…..and Beer!  This week it took me back to the lovely area of Central Pennsylvania…Chambersburg, Harrisburg, State College and the sweetest place on earth, Hershey.

On my first night in the area, I ended up in Chambersburg PA, which is just a couple miles north of the PA/MD border.  In my previous trip to this particular area, I had hooked up with a Beer Advocate user that I had previously traded with, for a beer or two.  Well, sometimes when you are having fun, you don’t realize that it is past midnight and you have cracked more than a couple beers.  My friend Travis had invited several of his friends over to sample beers and the night took off from there…until the next day actually.  Here was a list of the cracks from that night…

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Although it was awesome to get to stack up a three year vertical of Bourbon County Fruit Stouts, it also did all of his in for the night too.  Thankfully, my hotel was less than a mile away from where we were or it would have been a long ride back that night.

On Tuesday night, I had the opportunity to meet up with a now former coworker for dinner.  The only problem was that I wanted to go to different breweries that night and both of them were 25 minutes in each direction…not to mention hat my hotel was 20 minutes in a completely different direction.  Making an executive decision (because this determined the fate of the world, obviously), I decided to head East and go to Spring House Brewery.
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Spring House Brewery opened up in 2006 by head brewer Matt Kearsy.  He has a very familiar story where he hated his job, was an avid home brewer and finally said ‘Fuck It’, I’m opening a brewery’.  His original location was done right at his home, which was built in the 1790s and had a functioning natural spring (until the 1970s) in the basement, hence the name Spring House Brewery.  Unfortunately, when you base a brewery out of your house, things could get a little hectic and congested, so he decided to open The Taproom in downtown Lancaster in early 2011.

I had first discovered Spring House Brewery at the GABF in 2012.  During the first session (Thursday Night), it was one of those fluke things where you are walking around, happen to see a long line to a brewery, see some catchy names and say, ‘Why Not’.  Holy Shit, now I knew why there was such a long line, the beer was fantastic as I got to taste Braaaiins! (their pumpkin beer) and was blown away.  My best friends had tried Satan’s Bake Sale (mint chocolate chip stout) and had the same reaction…well, two more times through the line that night and we were hooked.   We had gone back to their booth during the third session (Saturday Afternoon) and they were almost wiped out of beer completely…which by the end of the session, they had vacated their booth because they were sold out.  Fast forward one full year, when I return back to the GABF Saturday afternoon sessions, with my buddy Matt and his friend Aaron, I had pointed out that we needed to get to Spring House but when we finally made our way over there, again, they were down to their last beer and sold out by the end of the session.

Given the fact that I was only about 20 minutes away from Lancaster, PA, its just made sense to get out while I could.  When I arrived, the place was about a quarter filled, had some dim lighting to go with the mildly macabre décor, but had a nice feel to it.  The service was decent, they had 9 beers on tap at the time that I went, along with 3 bottles for sale to go as well.  Here is what I consumed while on premises…

For the most part, Spring House Brewing met my expectations for the evening.  While not every beer was a complete success in my eyes, there were more hits than misses.  Spring House would definitely make a nice watering hole if it were located in my backyard…unfortunately, it is not.  Until next time Spring House…

It is amazing how things chance in such a short period of time when it comes to the weather.  As in most places, we have a saying in Buffalo…if you don’t like the weather, wait 5 minutes.  Such seemed to be the case for me on Wednesday too when the previous day had a high of 65 degrees, Wednesday was in the lower 20’s.  It just made for another miserable 12 hour work day with constant bands of rain/snow.  After arriving at the hotel in Hershey, I made a quick turnaround and headed to the closest brewery near my hotel, Troegs Brewing Company.

Troegs Brewing Company was created in 1997 by a pair of brothers who became overwhelmed by the craft beer scene in Colorado.  While they enjoyed their several years in Colorado, they wanted to get a full blown production brewery up and running back in the mid-atlantic area where there was less competition and less pressure.  Troegs had out grown their previous brewery and moved into a new facility in 2011, where they could meet the demand for their beers.  My first trip to Troegs was about 6 months after they had moved into their new facility.  To this day, I still stick to the fact that Troegs has the largest tasting room that I have ever been in (and I am over 120+ breweries visited).

I ran into Troegs really because I was curious to see what new or interesting beers that they might have on tap.  In my previous trip to Troegs, they had 4 different Scratch series beers on tap but unfortunately, it was not as abundant this day.  Actually, when I walked in and saw the draft board, it literally became…’well, I should have one beer while I am here’, as there wasn’t a single scratch beer on tap, and the only ‘special’ beers was Nugget Nectar and…

…but then I also saw this little nugget on the board too.
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Now the quick story behind this beer being an In House Only bottle was because of issues with the carbonation inside the bottle.  The brewers were concerned about the carbonation pressure of the bottles and didn’t feel safe with releasing it to the public with corks that could crush someones eye, so they kept the entire release In House Only, to be opened by Troegs Certified Serving Professionals.

After leaving Troegs, I headed to the other side of the capital city of PA to a small town called Enola, where Al’s of Hampden is located…home of Pizza Boy Brewing Company.
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Al’s of Hampden/Pizza Boy Brewing was started several years ago as a pizza parlor but then the owner Al got into serving local craft beer.  Within the past 18 months, they have since moved into a bigger facility now offering 102 taps of liquid goodness but still offering many taps of local craft beer, in paying homage to their craft beer roots.  With 102 taps staring me down, I did the only thing I thought was safe…head for the rarer bottles :)…

All I can say about Pizza Boy is that make sure that you eat before you arrive, as I thought the pizza was shit…but their beer list is amazing, especially for someone who is not local to the area or state for that matter.
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Thursday was just another shitty work day where the weather sucked, people wasted my time and things didn’t go according to plan…thankfully, my last stop of the day was 20 minutes away from Selin’s Grove Brewing Company located in Selinsgrove, PA.  While this brewery may not be known to a lot of people, but to the trained palate (and beer geek), Selin’s Grove is known for making some of the best fruit beers in the world (literally).

Selins Grove Brewing Company opened up in 1996 by a husband and wife team that were striking out in their craft brewing adventure after both were working at New Belgium Brewing for several years, in various positions.  They really became real brewers when they replaced their 3 barrel system in 2004 with some second hand equipment purchased from Avery Brewing.  Since their real brewing expansion in 2004, they have since upgraded their system several more times in the past decade to keep up with demand with their beers, especially with their Kriek, Framboise, and Pumpkin beers which are some of the highest rate in the world.

Although this was not my first time stopping here, I was still excited when I arrived because I was hoping to have a chance to get to try another fruit beer…and I was so fortunate to get these beers while I was here…

Although the place is small and dark on the inside, always worth the stop if you can snag one of their famed fruit beers.

From Selins Grove Brewing, I made the half hour drive north up into Williamsport, PA (home of the Little League World Series).  Thankfully, I have never had the pleasure of working in the area during said Little League World Series, I have been to this town many times and have hit up this place on many occasions.
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Bullfrog Brewery opened up in 1996 in downtown Williamsport and maintains the same location, brewing system that they started with since the beginning.  In early 2013, they opened a small secondary location for which they use to brew additional beer, fill kegs and sixtels.  Bullfrog was known to have brewed some ‘White Whale’ sours but that seemed to end when their head brewer left Bullfrog in 2012 for Pizza Boy Brewing.  While the Jazz Night was annoyingly loud and some of the locals I could have done without, I still managed to put down several more selections from Bullfrog…

Another week is in the books…just another travel adventure for a Wandering Idiot.  And Yes, I am still standing…