Thursday, December 31, 2009

Old Bart returns at Dawson Street Pub

That's Dave Landrecht, the guy who was lucky enough to get the very first commercially-poured glass of Yards Old Bartholomew at the Dawson Street Pub tonight. That's the return of Old Bart after ten years away, a return that brewery folks told me took all of 20 minutes to agree on: 20 minutes discussion, brewkettle the next day, bang! That's the new Yards, folks.







And yeah, I was there and drank myself some of the Old Bart (as did my two bros-in-law, Carl & Chris Childs). That's Emily pouring our glasses from the cask on the bar. How was it? Dangerously firkin drinkable, was the general evaluation. Not wicked hoppy, not wicked sweet, not at all the heavy hit to the chops you'd expect from a 10.3% ABV barleywine. Woof. We also popped a traditional glass of Snow Goose, the big goose-head tap just drew us on with memories of the good old days...and it was not disappointing. Nutty, tasty, malty...Goosey.

A great evening drinking beer, and a few great hours of 2009 yet to come.

Cheers! Happy New Year!

Happy New Beer from Victory

Nice little video about Victory's milestone tank expansion: that's some seriously big steel.



You know what I really like about this video? It's not like the tongue-in-cheek silliness of some brewery vids, or the chest-pounding you might see from others -- no, not naming names -- and it's not overdone. It's a lot like Victory: it's about the basics, and the people, and the beer. It's about delivering more beer, made to the same high standards they've had since the first time I dropped by, in February 1996. Cheers, Bill and Ron, and Scott Dietrich, and the whole crew at Victory Brewing!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas? Hop'solutely!


I meant to post yesterday, but it was just too busy and too fun. So today is Christmas -- Merry Christmas! -- and while the family's here, I'm taking the opportunity to sample the bottle of Brew Works Hop'solutely "Triple IPA" Beau Baden gave me when I visited the Bethlehem and Allentown Brew Works last month. As you can see by the look on Cathy's face...it's bitchin'.

Okay, more than that. Hop'solutely is 11.5% and doesn't really feel like it; more like about 8%, but there you are. It's sweet and bitter, light and solid. The bitterness is intense, but enhanced by equally intense fizz. My only issue here is that it's maybe too too much...but that's the west coast IPA thing. West coasters would not like how sweet it it, but that's how it goes: vive la difference!!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Kid Rock American Badass Beer may be in trouble

Oh, Kid Rock, Kid Rock...your beer house may be built on shifting sands.
One alcoholic-beverage company has made celebrity-oriented drinks the focus of its business model. Drinks Americas Holdings Ltd., Wilton, Conn., has signed joint ventures or other agreements with such celebrities as musicians Dr. Dre and Kid Rock and real-estate magnate and TV personality Donald Trump. Trump Super Premium Vodka, in which Mr. Trump has a 50% stake, sells for about $35 a bottle.

But Drinks Americas, created in 2002, has struggled. In an SEC filing Monday, it said it faces a shortage of working capital and may be unable to continue operations without additional financing. The company posted a $3.5 million loss for the six months ended Oct. 31.
Wonder if Kid Rock knows the meaning of schadenfreude?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Sam Adams Barrel Room Collection Stony Brook Red

I got some more samples: the Samuel Adams Barrel Room Collection. I'm trying the Stony Brook Red, a barrel-aged 'red,' a Flanders red kind of beer, I guess, only the damned thing's 9%. Burgundian imperial? Anyway, it carries that 9% very well, and doesn't taste particularly boozy.

It's tart, not sour, and the nose is tart cherry, a bit of almond, some fizzy sweetness, and some wood. The taste is all that, dialed back a bit. In fact, it's gulpable. There's the tart, there's a bit of astringency -- not unpleasant -- and a thickness that doesn't get to be too much. This is a Flanders red smoothed and sanded to an easily grasped glass. Well. Relatively easily grasped. It's enjoyable, but for someone who's been drinking this kind of thing, good and bad, for years, it's kind of easily grasped.

I'm trying to think of a metaphor and none's coming. I mean, for the price -- $9 for a 750 ml bottle (and an odd-looking bottle, looks like a butter churn) -- it's pretty decent value. But what the hell is a 9% Flanders Red, and how much are you paying for the 9% part? I'm not clear on this one. I'll have to try the other two.

Uncle Jack's Best Of 2009

I'm almost embarrassed to put up this link to Uncle Jack's 'best of' list for 2009, since I come in for both harrassment and praise (which is pretty much normal for our exchanges, come to think of it), but pride and humor won out. Seriously, Jack has some good calls here, particularly the first one: Weyerbacher Zotten is a really good beer, and if Dan & Co. don't make it a full-time beer, they're nuts.

Should Maryland raise its beer tax?

I think you know how I feel about that question. But the Baltimore Sun wants to know what people think about the idea and has a no-registration-needed poll here. Go vote!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy birthday, Nodding Head

Sigh... I'm missing the Nodding Head 10th anniversary celebration tonight. Wanted to go, just wound up with too much to do here at home. I remember the opening party for Nodding Head, back when we were all 10 years younger. The beers...were not huge, were not "really hoppy," and people were disappointed. No getting around it. And we were vocal about it. Jerks. Because Nodding Head proceeded to make that kind of beer formulation work like a wonder, selling every pint they could squeeze out of their system.

And now they're all grown up. Wish they'd been able to pull off that production facility they were talking about a few years ago, but Nodding Head's done just fine; pretty damned well, after all. Congratulations to current brewer Gordon Grubb, and to the man who drives the bus, Curt Decker. Wish I coulda made it to tell you in person.

Old Bart...back at last


Once upon a time, Yards made a barleywine. It was called Old Bartholomew, or as we called it then, Old Bart. It was delicious. It was wonderful. At one Split Thy Skull at Sugar Mom's, I found that Old Bart was a hops antidote: I had a mouthful of Old Crustacean hopsamatic residue, bitter oils and resins puckering my ale-hole, immune to water, food...and one swallow of Old Bart returned my taste and pleasure. It was great, it was full, it was wonderful. And it went away. For ten years.

It's back! Ten Days of Old Bart starts New Years Eve at the ancestral home of Yards Brewing taps: the Dawson Street Pub. Here's the schedule. Hope to see you at one -- at least! -- of these.

Thursday 12/31/09 - Dawson St Pub 5pm - Firkin

Friday 1/1/10 - Devils Den 1pm - Firkin

Saturday 1/2/10 - Varga Bar 5pm - Frikin (on the handpump!)

Sunday 1/3/10 - Swift Half Pub 1pm - Firkin (plus the Eagles vs the Cowgirls on the bigscreen)

Monday 1/4/10 - Local 44 5pm - Firkin

Tuesday 1/5/10 - Hulmeville Inn 7pm - Firkin

Wednesday 1/6/10 - Standard Tap 6pm - Firkin

Thursday 1/7/10 - Kite and Key 7pm - Firkin

Friday 1/8/10 - Pub & Kitchen 5pm - Pin

Friday 1/8/10 - The London Grill 8pm - Pin

Saturday 1/9/10 - Pub on Passyunk East (POPE) 12pm - Firkin

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Saranac Rye IPA



Just a short note about this Saranac Rye IPA I'm enjoying...frankly, it's short because I'm whupped. I've been up since 5:30 AM, shopping, running errands, cooking, shoveling snow (we've got about 10-11" right now, and it's finally starting to slack off)...and I'm about done.

So, the Rye IPA. It's quite brisk, almost light for an IPA, and it definitely has that rye feel to it: spicy/minty, a touch astringent, and yet ... 'oily' in a way on the finish. The hops are there to cut and carry -- Saaz and Hallertau in an IPA; how...Victorious -- and I think this would probably be a great beer with bluefish...I do love bluefish, and it's so hard to find a beer that's good with it.

For now, though...I'm drinking this beer with snow. And that's working, too.

Maud On Station: a gratuitous Corgi picture


Maud sure is taken with the snow. She's having a great time tearing around in it, and then took a moment to just look. I'd love to know what's running through her little walnut-sized brain.

If You're Looking for a Christmas Present...

...there's five bottles of George T. Stagg on the shelf at the PLCB State Store in Newtown, PA.

I'm just sayin'...

And as of 12:32 PM on Monday...there are only two (and one bottle of Eagle Rare 17, too, but no other Antique Collection whiskeys). Doubt not the power of the blog, or the depth of desire for Stagg!

Snowy? Scared to Drive? Drink instead!


More snowy day deals:
Snowy Day Specials Today Only at Tria!

Tria Rittenhouse: Give & Sip Gift Card Special -- For each $50 in Gift Cards purchased at Tria Rittenhouse today, you get a $15 Gift Card for you! And you can use your reward right then and there. That's what we call instant gratification - buy a gift, drink some wine (or beer).

Tria Wash West: Special 5 for 5 Happy Hour -- We're offering our new and wildly popular Tria-style happy hour all day and night at Tria Wash West. (This is usually available Monday through Thursday from 5 - 7 pm). 5 great fermented specialties (2 wines, 2 beers and a cheese plate) for $5 each. That leaves more money in your wallet for holiday shopping.
The Craft Ale House out in Limerick left a tempting post on Facebook: "Have you ever dreamed of being snowed in at a bar? Todays your chance, come on in." Indeed!

Bars in the Philly area: got more stuff going on today because of the weather? SEND IT!

PAWS benefit at the Khyber? It's ON, baby!

If you were wondering if the PAWS benefit cask event at the Khyber was still on, given the scary scary snowstorm...

Due to the blizzard of Aught-Nine the Khyber has declared a State Of Emergency...
FOR CATS & DOGS!

We will continue in our effort to help PAWS help our furry friends today despite the weather.
YES, we will be open.
YES, the fundraiser will still be held.
And YES, we will be pouring delicious brews & rockin' & rollin' all day!
This is our mission. We will not falter, we will not fail.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Bored Tonight? Devil's Den has a 12% Solution

Tis the season, I guess: more special events in Philly. Devil's Den has an interesting twist: 12% Fridays, a series of tappings of 12% beers:
Toast the end of the work week with 12% Fridays in December – a tapping of limited Belgian keg 12% imports, starting at 7P.M. Featured imports include: Eerwaarde Pater Oak Aged Belgian Brown Ale on December 18 and Valier Extra Belgian Pale Ale on December 25. On CHRISTMAS NIGHT (DECEMBER 25th), starting at 7p.m., Devil’s Den will be celebrating by tapping a keg of Mad Elf.

Join Devil’s Den NEW YEAR’S DAY at 1P.M. for their New Year – New Beer event featuring Yard’s Brewing. Tap a firkin of Old Bartholomew Barleywine. There will be a selection of Yard's beers on draft, along with Yard's food specials.
Now that is something else. Yards is making Old Barts again after ten years of hiatus -- hurray! -- and they're celebrating with ten days of tappings, starting at their old 'house tap', the Dawson Street Pub, on New Year's Eve at 5 PM.
 
And I hope you all know that New Year's Day marks the beginning of McGillin's 150th Anniversary celebrations. The doors open at 9 AM, and you'll have to contend with their usual Mummer's Parade crowd, though it's bound to be worth it. I'm trying really hard to talk Cathy into this...

Cell Phone Deals are pissing me off...am I stupid, or are they?

Okay...help me out here. All these wonderful "deals" on new cell/mobile/smartphones: they're all dependent on you signing up for two years of service, right? So all these deals are doing for me, who signed up to his "new deal" in April, is pissing me off. Will Verizon pay off my indentured servitude to AT&T? Will T-Mobile? Sprint? Of course not. Take your damned advertisements away, all they're doing is making me feel bad. I don't want the new phone badly enough to pay iPod prices for it. I'd be happy if this damned iPhone would just do what they said it would do.

It's an annoying day in Mobile-land.

How Things Have Changed

Saw this piece in Slate's The Big Money (thanks to a tweet-link from Beer Business Daily's Harry Schumacher (who just started following me on Twitter, so I returned the favor...and immediately reaped more benefit than I suspect he ever will)) about Bud Light Golden Wheat buying up all the ad time on an SNL episode back on October.

Old news, right? Wrong. Here's the little bit of relevance that makes this a year-story rather than a week-story. Blogger Dan Mitchell says this about the description of BLGW:
The campaign, like so many campaigns aimed at drinkers of mass-produced American beer, emphasizes the brew's "drinkability," which can be translated as "wateriness."
Now...can you imagine seeing that kind of flippancy in the news ten years ago? I couldn't, so I checked (thanks, Google): Bud Light and watery. The only hits I got were three: a taste test of Bud vs. Budvar in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, a piece by my good buddy and fellow beer writer Ron "The King" Givens in the Daily News where he says old-time ballpark suds were "the cheapest, most watery stuff that could be poured into a cup" but doesn't actually tag Bud Light as that, and, well, a piece by St. Michael Jackson about how not all American beers are watery.

Sea change time. The whole paradigm has shifted. Smart, bright journalists now say mainstream beer is "watery." Do we call this the "Arrogant Bastard Effect," or the "Sam Adams Shuffle"? How about The Great Awakening? How about Truth Setting You Free?

American mainstream beer. I still do drink it, if only from regional brewers: I'll definitely still drink a Lager or a Straub, and I've said here I enjoyed slamming a 16 oz. Narragansett. But...is it flavorful? No. Is it something I drink regularly? No. Is it refreshing? Yeah, for the most part, it is. And is it sweet to hear a mainstream journalist casually refer to it in terms of 'wateriness?' Yeah. Definitely. One more indication that we've hit that tipping point.

Charity for the Animals (with beer!)

However you celebrate the season -- Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Solstice, New Year's, or just a secular feel-good-time -- this time of year traditionally brings acts of kindly charity. The economy has many people in terrible condition, and that's in the front of everyone's mind. But animals hurt too, especially in the cold, and our friends at the Khyber are making it easy, even tempting, to do something nice for them.
Firkins for our Furry Friends

Looks like it may be snowing cats & dogs tomorrow, but at the Khyber we've got something special planned. Saturday December 19th -- 1:00pm-8:00pm

A special fundraiser for our friends at P.A.W.S. (Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society, who care for abandoned and unwanted animals) featuring an array of cask conditioned bartop kegs of quality craft brews. $20 at the door gets you a bottomless cup of these delicious beers: Sly Fox Chester County Bitter, Stoudt's Fat Dog Imperial Oatmeal Stout, Yards General Washington's Tavern Porter, and a vintage PBC Shackamaximum Imperial Stout.

All proceeds go directly to P.A.W.S. to help them in their efforts to save Philadelphia’s homeless, abandoned, and unwanted animals. So come in, get warm, and help us help PAWS!
Brews graciously donated by Yards, Philly Brewing, Sly Fox and Stoudt's.
And might I remind you: the Sly Fox is a great drinkable session beer, the Fat Dog is an eye-opener, Tavern Porter has that lovely licorice bite...but the Shackamaximum on cask is the absolute shit. 'Nuff said.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Bruery 2 Turtle Doves

My first beer from The Bruery, the latest "oh my god oh my god oh my god!!!!!" brewery of the geekerie. Small and specialist out of Placentia, California, I admit to wondering why this tiny place's beers are even in the Philly market -- but of course, that's why: it's Philly. 'Nuff said.

Anyway, this was a brewery sample, so after the requisite stalling and chilling and drinking other stuff, I'm getting to it. There's a ring of brown shtuff, like wet tobacco dust, around the bottle-lip when I lever the cap off. Not promising. 2TD pours thick and dark, almost black, and I'm wondering if this is more of The Cult of the Imperial Stout that seems to have taken over the übergeekerie, even more so than DIPA Frenzy.

But it's not that, it's... If a Baltic Porter is a doppelbock gone porter, this is an imperial Belgian stout...if you will, thus successfully combining two frenzy-inducing genres. I don't like it at first -- on the incipient edge of sourness, and the beer's almost too rich, and it doesn't taste like the description -- like "turtles," the choco-caramel-nut candy. Too much fruit for that. Too much, in general, even in a 12% beer.

As it warms, however, some cherry asserts itself, and the beer cleans up. Still big (and I don't get the people who said it hides the alcohol; no 'bad' alcohols, maybe, but clearly a big beer), and still rich, but settling down, getting comfortable with itself. Taken as not just a holiday warmer but as a statement on the lines of Stone's Vertical Epic -- and isn't that a gutsy thing for such a small, young brewery? isnt' it? Or is it? -- it's big enough.

I have another bottle. Gonna make sure more people are around when I open that one.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Monk's Christmas Dinner: 16 Years and Kicking!


Tom Peters, you mad son of fun.

You know there are a lot of perks to this crazy life I lead, but one of the very best is the Christmas dinner at Monk's Cafe. I've been going since before it was at Monk's: Tom Peters started doing these crazy dinners when he was managing Copa, Too!. There's always great beer, and there's always...the Buche de Noel.

Tonight's was no exception. I was at the bar, hobnobbing with UPenn Museum's Bruce Nichols, Uncle Jack, Carolyn Smagalski, and Don "Joe Sixpack" Russell, as well as Home Sweet Homebrew's George and Nancy, and Philly beer historian Rich Wagner. I could wax enthusiastic, but to be truthful, my waxing is waning right now: I'm exhausted. I'll just list the menu.

Sly Fox Christmas Ale 2007 with mussels and chorizo steamed in more Sly Fox Christmas.

Jolly Pumpkin Noel de Calabaza with spinach salad with hearts of palm, strawberries, and toasted pine nuts (this one worked well for me, cutting the sour of the beer).

La Rulles Cuvee Meilleurs Voeux, & St. Germain Page 24 Biere de Noel with a beautiful pan seared scallop, topped with grated beet, sitting atop sauteed beet greens and a beet risotto (it could not be beat).

Abbaye de St. Martin Cuvee de Noel & de Struise Tjeeses with elk loin, brussel sprouts, and a sweet potato stoempf. Tjeeses was good, very good, but the St. Martin really grew on me.

Scaldis Prestige 2007 with three marvelous cheeses: Molierno (sheep milk from Sardinia), Balyey Hazen Bleu (crumbly blue from VT), and Quadrello di Bufala (a hard buffalo milk cheese, packed with flavor).


Troegs Mad Elf Jeroboam & Port Brewing Santa's Little Helper with the Buche de Noel. Yum. The Mad Elf was great, the SLH was big and warmingly medicinal. Nice job on both. (That 'mushroom' was delish, BTW)

Particularly poignant, because this was chef Adam Glickman's last night, after steering the kitchen for 9 years. He got a bit choked up, and it's understandable. Great run, Adam. Fantastic food, that did honor to the beer.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

East End Brewing Fights Back!



Small brewers of Pennsylvania: are you scared of grocery store beer sales? I like the attitude of your comrade, Scott Smith at East End Brewing, who won't let the prospect get him down: he's taking it to the grocers and selling coffee and cake mix! The latest from his always-amusing e-letter:
GROCERIES AT THE BREWERY? OH, THE HUMANITY!

Last month, beer was sold at a grocery store in Western PA, and something remarkable happened... small brewers still survived, local beer distributors that offer better beers haven't closed, and in general civilization hasn't crumbled. Just amazing. But while the long term effects of better access to better beer still remain to be seen, we're going to see if we can shake things up even more and give the folks at Giant Eagle and Wegman's a run for their money... and take the game to their field.

We've already sold through our batch of Rachel Carson Blend Coffee from LaPrima at the brewery, as well as (the beer that we can't call) Eye Opener Coffee Porter. And now our further encroachment into the "Fine Groceries" category continues with our Holiday Season release of our much anticipated Black Strap Stout Cake Mixes. Finally, the return of the best solution for that leftover cup of Black Strap Stout at the bottom of your Growler - make a cake with it! Or maybe that's not a problem for you, and you just need to pick up a second jug?

So, there. Take THAT grocery stores! Now we'll really see if civilization can crumble. I know the cake is nice and moist.
I do like a brewer with a sense of humor, and Scott's all that and a bag of crisps. Pretty damned good beer, too.

Knob Creek's Flowing Again

Back in June, I got an empty bottle of Knob Creek in the mail with a message from Beam: Thanks For Nothing. Sorry, they said: we didn't make enough Knob Creek 9 years ago, and, well, we're out. Won't be bottling till November, because we won't compromise on every drop of Knob Creek being 9 years old. And "Thanks For Nothing," meaning Thanks For drinking so much Knob that we have Nothing left. Knob Creek, it seemed, had run dry.

I was nonplussed. They sent me an empty bottle? It seemed silly just to make their marketing point. Wouldn't an e-mail with a picture of a man crying beside an empty bottle have been enough? And just who the hell were they kidding, anyway? They must have seen this coming a year or two ago, although nine years ago they clearly didn't foresee the startling rise in bourbon sales that would take place (and Knob is one of the hot brands): they didn't make enough whiskey. They could have just put Knob on allocation. That's about the only option they had, though, because Knob is the oldest bourbon Beam bottles -- so far -- so they couldn't divert older bourbon to fill out the 9 year old stocks (which would be legal: "9 years old" on the label just means that the youngest whiskey in there is 9 years old).

And...an empty bottle? I was, as I said, nonplussed. So I said nothing. And I waited. And I didn't really see any empty shelves, although I did see a lot of mainstream press coverage (complete with analysts actually saying that this could be bad for the brand...who pays these people?!), and the price of Knob on the shelf went up. Hmmm...

Then a week or so ago, I got a full bottle, a special labeling without the usual paper label, just screened, and with a necker that read: "From spirits distilled in the year 2000 and aged a full 9 years." That's better. A full bottle. That I understand.

So what's this mean? That I only respond to full bottles of whiskey? Well, considering that Knob's one of the whiskeys I actually buy occasionally, no, not really. I've got plenty, and I didn't need more. I'll probably give this one away (maybe for a charity thing, been doing more of that lately). Maybe it's just that empty bottles confuse me?

What it really means is a few things. First, it appears that Beam has such a big pipeline that it takes a while to empty it; there was enough Knob in the system to sustain sales for five months. Second, hats off to Beam for sticking to their age statement, something that's been dropping off a lot of whiskey (and whisky) bottles in the past two or three years as sales out-strip supplies. Beam made more of a noise about running out than anyone else did, because they did make that decision to stick to the age statement. Finally, it looks like all this shortage really did was get Knob Creek plenty of publicity, of the good kind: they spelled the name right, and they got credit for sticking to 9 years. Which they should.

Now...how about you make more than enough, and give us a 15 year old at some point?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Last Sly Fox Hops Project


We've been enjoying the fruits of O'Reilly's (the one in the middle) obsession with single-hopped beers at Sly Fox for years now (six years, according to Ohst (the one on the left)). This is the last year. We're promised something new next year, but there you are. What do you think of a replacement: the Yeast Project, with 12 beers all done with the same malt and hops recipe...with different yeast? Or (duh...) the Malt Project where a different malt is featured prominently. Or hell, maybe a different adjunct every time. I see a lot of promise. It will be wasted, because Brian's got his own vision, of course, but I throw it out there for anyone to use.

Anyway, here I am, enjoying the pale ale-version of the last Hops Project, with Steve Jacoby (the one on the right). I tried a lot of 'em, and wound up with the Argentinian Cascade: bitter, spritely, piney, and earthy. Interesting stuff. 

Whew. Liveblogging is interfering with my enjoyment here. Have fun, folks!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Stan's back

Stan Hieronymus took his family on an amazing trek over 18 months. I love Stan and Daria, and I love how they travel, but...I missed Stan's blogging.

He's back. I can see work is going to be more difficult for me as I will be spending more time reading his blog again. You should too, Stan's one of the best.

Ah, the Vitality of Youth

I've got a guest post up at What Does John Know, Malt Advocate publisher John Hansell's blog, about young spirits; specifically, rye whiskey. Young rye whiskeys seem to come across better than young bourbons to me, and I was just openly speculating on why. Have a look, and take a good look around while you're there; there's an incredible amount of news, notes, and informed discussion about whisky.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Ask Not For Whom Red Bell Tolls

I'm compiling the archived files of 15 years of Malt Advocate stories, including back when we still covered beer, and I wrote a column called Short Sips that gave me a chance to poke fun at what was going on in the beer world...and sometimes things right in my own beer backyard. Such as this, which I I just copied out of a file from mid-2001. I know Jack remembers, and I know some of the rest of you do as well, the days when Red Bell provided the kind of comedy that H.L. Mencken used to have to rely on the Congressional Record to provide:
The following is a condensed composite of actual news articles from the Bloomberg news service, BusinessWire, and the Philadelphia Inquirer.

March 24: Shares of Red Bell Brewing of Philadelphia will begin trading on March 27th. Red Bell had about $11.5 million in sales last year and the company will generate $12.5 million to $14 million in revenue this year, said Chief Executive Jim Bell. Red Bell owns breweries at several area stadiums and arenas, including Veterans Stadium, and plans to open a brewpub at Penn State University in July.

April 9: Red Bell announced today that certain inaccuracies were contained in a March 24th article. Red Bell had gross revenues of $514,720 in 2000, not $11.5 million. The article also incorrectly stated that Red Bell would generate $12.5 million to $14 million in revenues this year. Subject to completing, opening and operating its proposed [Short Sips TruthItalics added] Penn State brewpub as well as acquiring and operating at least 2 existing brew pubs, Red Bell could generate $11.5 to $12.5 million in revenues per year. Also, at the present time, Red Bell does not own or operate any brewpub locations [in stadiums or anywhere]. Finally, while Red Bell has applied for the listing of its common stock, Red Bell is still waiting for final approval of the application.

Well, well, well. Some days the news is so damned bizarre we don’t even have to say a word.
I never could figure out why the Inquirer always swallowed Jim Bell's press releases whole, no matter how many times they were burned.

Yuengling Porter Follow-up

I did put the question to John Callahan, lead brewer at Yuengling's "new" Pottsville facility: is 'porterine used in brewing the Yuengling Porter? No porterine, he said, "our Porters are brewed with Briess specialty malts$$$, and it is the oldest, along with Chesterfield Ale, of our recipes."

Doubters? Believers? John's a pretty stand-up guy, based on the impressions he's made on me on this day and at the MBAA meeting we attended last year. I buy it.

Christmas Parties You're Invited To

Just got a note from Leigh at Resurrection Ale House about their Christmas celebration:
This Christmas season, Resurrection Ale House will be celebrating what's great about seasonal beer AND spreading the holiday spirit among those in need. Make no plans for Saturday, December 19, except of course to spend the day drinking excellent Christmas and Winter beers. The lineup includes Scaldis Noel, DuPont Avec Les Bons Voeux, SlyFox Christmas Beer, Ridgeway Reindeer Droppings, Troegs Mad Elf, and many more. All day, $1 from every draft beer you drink goes to Share Our Strength, an organization dedicated to making sure that no kid in America grows up hungry.
Good times, good cause. great beers. I know there are more out there: send 'em in!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Copper Kettle

Finally getting to tasting the Copper Kettle beers I picked up in August (I tasted the Potbelly Porter early in November). The Celebration Wheat...eh. Boring wheat, with just a touch of off-flavor. The Porter is damned good, an honest, straight-up porter with the solid dark malt flavors -- coffee, chocolate -- you want. Good beer. There's a bottle just marked with a "K" on the cap: an 'experimental' kriek, Harold told me, usin some of Russ's homegrown sour cherries. It's kind of like a strong Belgian dark with spice, some candy-sweet, and a firm undercurrent of tartness from the cherries. It's working for me, balancing the sweet without using hops. What else we got here? Lucky 393 Grand Cru is the last one. Very foamy, heads up like a Duvel. It's got coriander and sweet orange peel, lactose and candi sugar in it; let's see how that all got together. Mmmm, well-melded. Not sweet, the coriander does not dominate but does add a nice drying touch; the orange peel is a nice "top dressing"; and the lactose puts a good medium body to it. Out of the ordinary, and nicely-done. Still think I'd drink the Porter most of the time.

Today is St. Nikolaus Day

Jon Abernathy has a beer advent calendar going (again) at his blog, The Brew Site. He asked me if I would guest-write one entry for him, and I in turn asked if he could reserve today for me. He agreed, and I think you'll agree that it turned out nicely. Cool idea, a beer advent calendar, and a look at some of the smart and pretty labels brewers use.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

HOWL!

Happily, I'm not talking about Ginsberg's HOWL*, but about Magic Hat's. Howl is their winter seasonal, a schwarzbier, and I'm liking it just fine. There's a good head on it -- tan and fluffy -- and a black body underneath that promises chocolatey goodness and delivers. There's roastiness, too; not stout-level, but enough to put a dark edge on the chocolate and crimp the finish. This is not as glass-smooth as Kostritzer, but its got pleasingly more guts: horses for courses.

I wish there were more schwarzbiers. You may remember how much I loved Moonlight's Death & Taxes (drinking it repeatedly when the west coast's bounty lay open and willing before me). This stuff's 4.6% and I could drink it all night. Get on the lager beam, my friends, enjoy your beer!


*Call me a philistine, but that poem's crap; I'd parody it for the review --
Beer! Beer! Nightmare of Beer! Beer the wineless! Mental Beer! Beer the heavy judger of men!
-- but who needs it?

Friday, December 4, 2009

Does this look right?

Just a housekeeping post... Does the blog look right? It looks to me like Google/Blogger changed the line spacing and maybe tweaked things up on the fonts, too.

Or maybe I'm just losing it.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Sierra Nevada continues to beat expectations

Last year's burst of new beers from Sierra Nevada was, apparently, only the beginning. Just got a release today about their newest: Glissade Golden Bock. It's going to be the replacement for ESB as the spring seasonal, and let me tell you, it's great to see a brewery putting a blonde bock in rotation for that slot.

The numbers: 6.4% ABV, lager yeast, 15.5°P, hopped with Magnum & Perle for bittering, Spalter, Slovenian Aurora and Styrian (other hops are all German) finishing, 42 BU.

The tease: no beer yet, just announcement. But here's a tease of my own: there are some amazing projects coming down the pike from SN, and they'll be talking about them real soon. They've got quite the beer-release party planned for next year's 30th anniversary.

Area breweries are growing

Not really news, because it happened back in late September, but better late than never, I suppose: Philadelphia Brewing and Victory both made some major additions to their tankage. That's Philly Brewing's four new 60-bbl. tanks arriving at the brewery (and yeah, the leaves kinda give me away on the tardiness factor...); gotta assume they're gonna be seeing some Kenzinger usage.

Now, the tanks Victory put in are somewhat bigger: four 400-bbl. tanks. I remember my shock when I first saw 200 bbl. tanks at a microbrewery (Blue Ridge, in Frederick), and thought, Wow, I guess you've made it when you need 200 bbl. tanks. Victory's put four of 'em in, in a structure that's built to take twelve. Craft beer just keeps growing...and I don't see that stopping any time soon.