Hello, Central PA!
If you haven't sampled the beer (or the excellent food) at the Gamble Mill Inn in Bellefonte since Mike Smith took up residence, if you haven't gotten your signed copy of Pennsylvania Breweries or Going Local yet...this Sunday is your chance!
Ken Hull and I will be doing a team booksigning event there Sunday afternoon from 2 to 4:30. Ken's the author of Going Local and Going Local 2, two guide books to the best in central PA's independent eateries (and drinkeries). They're excellent, very useful, and Ken's writing style is a hoot to read: quite personal, real "looking over his shoulder" kind of stuff. I've done a book signing with him before, at Appalachian Brewing, and we had a great time.
Come on out to see us; it's Sunday afternoon, it's not like you've got anything pressing, right? I will be leaving at 4:30; got to get down to Otto's for a sold-out Pub Club bourbon and beer dinner, so come early and join us for a beer!
Thursday, July 28, 2011
Hello, Central PA!
Thursday, July 21, 2011
I had too many beers. On my kitchen table, that is. So I invited over some neighbors: Tom Merryman, from across the street, who's been here since we moved in, and Chris Reilly, from up the street, who's one of the Chris's at Weyerbacher. We're out on the deck now -- in the heat, yeah, but there's a breeze, and beer -- drinking up some samples.
First was Wasatch Summer Twilight kolsch. Nice beer, with a good amount of grainy mess to it, reminded me of Malzmuhle in Cologne. Great start to the night, and a cooler.
Second, drinking now, is one Chris brought from the brewery, a new Flanders Red type, coming out once they get label approval: Rapture. Assuming that's approved, so cross your fingers. It's good stuff: not overly acetic, the barrel character is there (but again, not overdone), dry but not puckering, and a great sour cherry character...and no cherries. It was aged in some Chaddsford Winery barrels. Thanks, Chris, nice!
Next up: the upcoming Patriot Homebrew for this football season at Gillette. Boston Beer does a contest...oh, hell, I'm not going to explain it again. Here, read about it. So this year...it's a Baltic Porter, and it's pretty tasty stuff. A little smoky raunch, rich, tasty, but not huge. Should do well, especially when it's cold at the stadium, eh?
Okay, a real fresh one: Stone Japanese Green Tea IPA, a collaboration with Ishii and Baird breweries in Japan as a fund-raiser/solidarity thing with Japan. The aroma is very fresh, like a meadow, and just as multi-variate. 9.2, and bitter, but the green tea/herbal quality keeps it fresh and lively. We're liking this; nice work!
Last one: Samuel Smith Yorkshire Stingo. Wow, so nice. Very smooth for an 8% beer, and less dark than I expected. There's wood coming through, and a lot of Yorkshire yeast, and even a bit of bitter/dry curl at the end. Wow, again. And on a hot, hot night? It works.
Have to do this again. Soon. Good times!
York, Pennsylvania has had several microbreweries. There was York Brewing -- failed -- and Freedom Brewing -- failed -- and the Brick Oven brewpub -- failed -- and several breweries that were planned, discussed, and trumpeted...and never opened. York County hasn't done much better; we're still waiting on Hanover Brewing. We talk about The Curse: opening a brewery in York just doesn't seem to work.
Two days ago, on Tuesday, Jeff Lau took his shot: Mudhook Brewing opened (at 34 N Cherry Lane, York), as reported here. Sounds like opening night was a success. To officially beat The Curse (and by "officially," I mean in my eyes...), Mudhook will have to still be in operation in January of 2013. Best of luck, Jeff and company!
Monday, July 18, 2011
Got an invite to a press opening at Revolution House (I know, Facebook link, but the website they did have up appears to have been temporary...) last week, and I gotta say: it is probably the reason I failed to lose any weight on my Weight Watchers' weigh-in on Friday, despite 70+ miles of hard biking last week. My God, the food! Lemme tell you how it happened.
I invited my buddy Rich Pawlak to go along with me, because he doesn't get out much, because he's good company, because he knows everyone in the Philly food/PR community...but mostly because the invite mentioned a pizza oven, and he's berserk for good pizza. We were going to meet there around 5:30, 6:00, so I headed down to Philly about 4:30. No way I was going to park in Old City, so I stuffed the bike in the Jetta, parked on the block of N. 2nd between 700 and Standard Tap, helmeted up and rode down to 2nd and Market; mostly downhill, so I wasn't really sweating much in the heat.
Turned out I was early, so, well, haven't been to the re-done Khyber Pass yet: stopped in and got lucky. They still had some Deschutes Black Butte Porter on tap, and I killed a glass of that toot sweet. The Khyber is cleaner (especially the floor), and has gone for food in a big way, but the bar? Still great beer, still a bit scruffy, still laid-back sassy.
|Sorry the bartender stepped out of frame: she was quite cute!|
It was hard to believe that this was the old Snow White Diner, but it was. Wow, what you can do with money, hey? This is the work of Panorama's Luca Sena (Snow White owner John Poulos is in with him, and was there, looking quite calm) and designer/photographer Dominic Episcopo. Notable bits were the see-through steel staircase up to the second floor, the antique bottles over the second floor bar (see below), the massive chandelier over the stairs, and the outdoor deck.
|The antique bottle lighting 2nd floor bar: brilliant.|
That wasn't what broke me, though, it was the parade of goodies. Great grilled vegetables, cheese/sausage-stuffed cippolinis, piles of fried onion straws, cheeses, soppressatta, sliders on golden rolls with what looked like free range fried eggs on top, and more, more, more: I swear, few things were repeated, they just kept bringing out new stuff. You know, even if you just have a little! It's still a lot!
So we repaired to the deck -- nice, above the traffic -- and sipped beers, surrounded by the hoi polloi (as I tweeted, though, at an Old City VIP opening, you get mostly hoi, not so much of the polloi). And, finally, it was time to go...and Rich says, "Have you been to the Blind Pig yet?" I knew he wasn't talking about the famed bar in NYC, he and I have been there together, so I asked. New place in Northern Liberties, he said, and explained where it was...hell, I was parked right in front of it! So I saddled up and rode north, and sure enough, there it was. Well. Had to have one...since this was apparently my night for new gastropubs.
Blind Pig was nice: sidewalk dining, good beer selection, food smelled excellent, service was quite correct. I had an O'Reilly's Stout and relaxed. Or tried to, as three obnoxious women at the end of the bar just totally harshed my mellow. Lord, each trying to outdo the other with how much their cars cost and how 'the best' they were, and the new places they'd been, and how bad the service was there, and how much they were going to spend on vacation -- not where they were going to vacation, but how much it would cost! -- and it was to make you ill. I wanted to take a flash picture of them and tell them how much I was going to blog about them, but...piff. Anyway, I'd like to say they drove me out, but actually, I was done. Nice place, but go when it's a bit more busy! That stretch of 2nd is getting crazy cool, and to think it used to be a place I was nervous about parking the car.
Again: the beer scene in Philly is expanding into the mainstream. Good beer at all these places, and people expect it. Keep it up, folks: it's working!
Monday, July 11, 2011
Just got this from Guy Hagner. There have been problems at the brewery; I've been silent on this because there is pending legal action, but it looks like everything's coming out in the open. I understand that Tom Clark is giving a statement to Jack Curtin; check his blog for more.
Friday, July 8, 2011
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Rich and Dan, of course, are Harpoon founders (technically Mass Bay Brewing founders, I believe) Rich Doyle and Dan Kenary, two very bright fellows who I've been lucky enough to know and to sink a few Harpoons with. This is, they say, the kind of beer they always wanted to make. Why didn't they? Heh. You try selling a rye IPA back in 1988! Now they had their chance, and they took it. Congratulations to them, and to everyone at Harpoon, on this excellent beer. I'll have my eye out for stray bottles here and there, and will take them in and give them a good home.
Thanks to the readers who asked where the hell I was the past three weeks... I've been really tied up with Malt Advocate. My duties have expanded there, and I've been getting that settled. I think we're on-track now.
I was also in Kentucky and Ohio for four days, visiting with new A.Smith Bowman distiller Truman Cox (he was just finishing up work at Buffalo Trace; I think he starts in Virginia this week, and best of luck to him!), Heaven Hill icon Parker Beam, and Wild Turkey legend Jimmy Russell...who was hosting a little shindig for Wild Turkey's brand-new distillery, and it's a beaut, as I wrote here. (You'll notice that John hasn't posted much either, lately: it's just a slow time of year, folks!)
I also dropped in on Athens, Ohio on my way home. I'm going to be hosting Ohio Brew Week there, starting this Saturday, so since I've never been there, I thought I'd take a look around. Well, there was a great brewpub -- Jackie O's -- where I had a delish pizza and several guest beers (had to leave before they opened, but I did get a quick tour of their barrel-aging room...good God, it's amazing!), and a bunch of fun bars up and down the block. I also made a quick visit to Salaam, the Mid-East restaurant where I'll be doing a beer dinner Monday night, and wound up in a press conference that resulted in this piece.
After that, well, had a lot of writing to do, a lot of family stuff, my mom's 80th birthday to celebrate, a trip to upstate NY for a graduation party and a gathering of my wife's clan for a graduation party and a 4th of July celebration (that included a sixtel of Walt Wit that we kicked, and thanks to the low session-type ABV, no one got silly). We toured Syracuse University on the way home -- first of Nora's campus visits, and an impressive one -- and lunched at Dinosaur Barbeque: the Big Ass Pork Plate has a hypnotic effect on me.
About that pork...I also got in almost 50 miles on the bike over the weekend, riding the Erie Canalway with Cathy and her brothers. I'm recording my mileage here to benefit bike charities; if anyone wants to sign up, please do so! (I think you can guess which silly username is mine...)
Anyway...I said privatization (as in Pennsylvania wine and liquor retail privatization) isn't dead, and I meant it. Check this out. Since then, I've been in touch with several NGOs about participation in strategy sessions on privatization. I know there are whiskey and even wine drinkers reading this blog, but the lion's share are beer drinkers. Get interested: beer is going to be very much a part of this.
It's my firm belief, borne up by experience in other states, that wine and liquor sales are a key component to beer sale success in a fully-privatized retail system. Ideally: private wholesale operations feeding private retail operations that sell "all-alcohol": beer, wine, and spirits. The supermarket sales genie has already been let out of the bottle, for better or worse, so we're going to have to deal with that.
There will be bills popping up. We need to read them carefully, and make our voices heard. I plan to have a bullet list of what I want to see in a privatization bill and what I really don't want to see in one. Look for that soon. In the meantime, check out the ridiculous amounts of taxes Pennsylvanians pay for wine and spirits, and how that's going to sink privatization...if we let it.