Friday, July 23, 2010

The Restaurant Search (Part 2)

My local restaurant search lead me to a brewpub that is less than 7 miles from my house.  Located in the town of Mt. Joy, Bube's Brewing is a modern brewery that is housed in the original building of a 19th century brewery.

This establishment hosts multiple dining rooms, including a Biergarden.  These rooms are all unique, with one of the rooms hosting murder mystery events.  The menu looked good to us, and we felt like braving the heat to sit on a patio, so we ventured over.

Walking into the large, warehouse/factory style building (you could tell it was old) places you with the option of dining areas.  We were led out back to the biergarden.  Even though it was hot (and it was made worse as we were placed in a corner with limited air movement), the open space was very nicely put together.  Trees were covering overhead, limiting the amount of natural light-- there was more than enough, but we could tell the difference when we left.  The service was pleasant and usually available.  The food was good, nothing special, but it made us happy.

But the beer was spot on. And it happened to be the reason that I wanted to go.  While waiting for our table (only 3-4 minutes), I spotted the brewery's beer board.  On top of that list was a Berliner Weisse- and I love sour beers (pictured above).  So my first beer was no hard choice.  The Berliner Weisse was nice and sour, with a quick bite in the finish.  My second beer was their Scottish ale.  It was not too peaty, which is how I enjoy the style.  Overall, I really enjoyed the beer, and will be back to try the others available.  They also had an ESB, Lager and Brown ale.  The only thing that I would have wanted was for the beer to be a little colder to start.  My fiance's mojito on the other hand, left much to be desired.

Great experience at a place I will be back to again.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Summer Beers

I am getting on the kick of making my list of what I like to have (or am having) during the summer.  The heat, humidity and yard work are all factors in the decision that needs to be made when it comes to beer.  You don't need to have a fruity foo-foo drink to enjoy the summer weather.

One of the best styles to have directly following yard work or any other outdoor physical activity is a nice crisp pilsner.  I love having a Sunshine Pils (Troegs).  This German Pilsner beats the thirst, while the light body of the beer doesn't weigh you down for the rest of the day. The hint of lemon and slight grassy taste are accompanied with a perfect amount of carbonation. Other Pilsners that I would recommend are: Victory Prima Pils, Stoudts Pils, Lagunitas Pils and, for the import crowd, Javer Pilsner.

Sometimes I like to keep the light body, but push the alcohol content to the roof with a Tripel. My favorite tripel is made by Selin's Grove Brewing, but unless you are close enough to grab a growler for home, you might never get it. So, go find what is on the back shelves at the beer store (many tripels are available in the winter, not so available in the summer).  The Bruery Trade Winds, River Horse Triple Horse and Unibroue La Fin du Monde are very good examples.  Be prepared for the 8-12% abv that comes along with the sweet nectar. You could, of course, go with any of the classic Trappist beers (Achel, Westmalle, or Chimay-my favorite) and be extremely happy.

If you don't like the pilsner and the tripel has too much heat, you could go with a nice "fruity" Saison (or Farmhouse ale).  The Saison of the Year (in my opinion) is the Stillwater Stateside Saison, made by a guy who decided this year to start commercially brewing, and hasn't been able to keep up with the demand.  This is a great saison, with an added hop kick to it.  Most saisons (as well as this one) are light bodied, lighter colored beers that have a zesty citrus kick.  The farmhouse name comes from a funky smell/taste that some beers have.  Some people love it, some hate it, but it is a very refreshing beer to drink during the summer. Saison Dupont is a classic example of the style.  Other beers to check out are Ommegang Hennepin, Jolly Pumpkin Bam Biere and Great Divide Colette.  Brettanomyces are a strain of wild yeast that makes the beers have that funky, sour taste.  Nice word to look for on the bottle.

If I am going to a park or party or where ever and want to be "environmentally clean"- I'll grab my friends in a can.  The best- Oskar Blue's Dale's Pale Ale.  First time I brought a six pack of cans (with the dolphin killing plastic) to a party my friends thought I was crazy bring beer in a can.  Then they tried it.  Instantly, they were captivated by the taste.  Oskar Blues only cans and kegs there beer, and all the beer they make are winners.  From Dale's to Gordons to Ten Fidy, you can't go wrong if it has Oskar Blues's label on it.  Other canned beer that is good are the Caldera IPA and the beers brewed by 21st Amendment.

The last great summer beer to try, would be a wheat beer.  Whether you go with a Belgian Wit or a German Hefeweizen, the wheat beers give the light body, smooth taste that make drinking in the summer weather a good experience. Ayinger and Schneider Weisse are two great examples of hefeweizens that most beer drinkers would enjoy having, while Allagash White and Harpoon UFO are two good examples of witbier. 

Finally, the beer that has not left my fridge for a long time- Flying Dog Raging Bitch.  I feel this beer can be drank in any weather, and be kept on hand.  Hopefully, you like this quick list that I made up, and if you don't, comment below and we'll discuss.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Troegs Scratch #30- Bock

After a good workout, yes a workout, I decided to open the last of the Troeg's Scratch series that I had in the fridge.  It was Scratch #30, a Bock (some say a Jerman Bock, apparently a Helles/Mai bock).

It poured a nice light brown (a little darker than the picture makes it out to be), with a nice size head that disappears quickly.  The head leaves a nice lacing on the glass.

The nose presents a very nice hop/malt balance- but no over the top smells come about.

First sip is delicious.  Second sip recognizes a nice sweet, bready taste that is backed up with a good amount of hops (drys everything out).  Surprisingly, this is 7% abv, I would have never guessed.  As with the smell, neither hops nor malt dominate the taste.

This beer also has a nice balance of Carnation that allows the beer to be smooth going down.  A very medium to light body doesn't hold you down after drinking.  This is a very drinkable beer, and being the 7% could consider this dangerously drinkable-- the kind I like. 

Wish I could get more.  If you can find some of this anywhere, pick it up now!

Sunday, July 11, 2010


One of the best things about moving is finding new places with great beer.  My fiance and I love to eat out, so when we moved we searched for local restaurants to eat at. This took us to The Railroad House on Thursday night.

The online food menu seemed promising, and the pictures online made it look like a nice place to eat.  Something I was not expecting was a very nice beer list.  On it, I found a couple of Founders beers.  I went with the Old Carmudgean, a very good old ale that has a strong dark fruits smell and taste.  I was very pleased. 

These mini surprises make it fun and exciting.  Sometimes a place will have Founders/Bells/etc., sometimes they have BMC.  You never know what you are going to get.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Beer Day

Towards the end of the work day, I decided I needed to hit up a beer store before getting out of the city.  Living in Pennsylvania has its perks for us, being closer to family, cheaper insurance rates, etc.  But the one major downfall (to me) is the case law.  Yes, I know I can pick up bottles and sixers at bars or at the few bottle shops around, but the selection is usually lacking- especially compared to places like Well's, the Wine Source and HoneyGo Wine

Yesterday, I stopped into The Wine Underground.  This is one of my favorite beer/wine shops.  Unless you know where you are going, you would never run into it.  Located on a side street, the Wine Underground as a great selection of wine, and very knowledgable people to help you with your selection (I am not a wine person, but a good friend of mine who is thought very highly of them- he was actually the reason I know of it).  The beer selection, while not as extensive as the others, is very good.

I had nothing in mind when I walked in, but once I saw the Raging Bitch (Flying Dog), I placed a sixer on the counter and started my pile.  Next, I spotted 21st Amendment's Hell or High Watermelon.  I had a sip of this beer last year, and now want to give it its due with this warm weather.

On to the single bottles.  I have been on a huge Saison kick lately, so I was excited to see the Stone/DogfishHead/Victory Saison du Buff.  I grabbed two bottles of it, hopefully it lives up to its billing.  Beside the Saison du Buff was a mini display of big bottle of Avery.  I had the tough choice of Anniversary Ale-Seventeen, Maharaja and Collaboration Not Litigation.  Maharaja is one of my favorites, if not my favorite, and Collaboration Not Litigation is very good.  But I have never had Seventeen, and it sounded delicious- a Black Lager with a ton of hops.

I have some friends coming to visit this weekend, so I grabbed a 22oz Sierra Nevada Harvest- a favorite among friends.  The final bottle I grabbed was a 22oz Stone Old Guardian barleywine.  No specific reason for grabbing it, other than not remembering ever having it, and it sounded good.

Now I just need to find time to start drinking it.

Sorry for the bad iPhone camera picture

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Session #41- Homebrewing

This month's issue of The Session is hosted by The Wallace Bros. at Lug Wrench Brewing Company.  They asked bloggers to write about how homebrewing has influenced Craft Beer industry.

I am sure that many craft brewers started out as homebrewers.  I love the homebrew competitions that breweries hold, whether it is Sam Adam's homebrew competition or Heavy Seas (the Letter of Marque Hop Rye Porter was amazing).  But homebrewing means something different to me.

To some people homebrewing is their live. To me it is the start to a new life.

Now that I moved out to the country from Baltimore, one of the things that I am looking forward to is homebrewing. Yes, I could have done it in the city, but space was an issue. I have already decided to brew some of the beer for my upcoming wedding in October (with the help of my brother), and we have been going over recipe ideas. Will I keg or bottle? Big batches or small batches? Lager or stick to ales? These are the questions that vo through my mind on my hour and a half drive every morning.

The final question that goes through my mind is what style my first homebrewing will be. I though about doing a saison-it is my favorite now. Or maybe an IPA- my longtime favorite. I do love Belgians though or something safe like a basic pale ale. These questions burn me up and give me things to contemplate. What I know I can't wait for is to make these decisions. I also feel fortunate to know that I have build a good core of people who I know can answer any questions that I may have about homebrewing. So if you have any answers to the above questions, or any good advice, please let me know.