- Nodding Head has a 10th anniversary version of 3C out called 4C, because it adds Columbus hops to the Cascades, Chinook, and Centennial hops that are in 3C...and turns it up to 11...percent, that is, not as brewed by Nigel Tufnel. It tastes so damned fresh-hoppy that it's like licking the inside of a hops bale wrapper. "We're generally less bitter," says Gordon Grubb, "but we use more hops."
- Bube's Brewery has a pretty damned nice 6% Nut Brown Ale on right now, and one of their two brewers' names really is Bryan Teets, which I can only guess has earned him a couple rations of crap.
- Crabby Larry owner Larry Jones got bit by the brewing bug; found it so interesting that he's doing most of the brewing now, and has exchanged his oversized tanks for smaller ones: the beers are the better for it, fresher, less oxidized. His Irish stout's pretty nice right now, and the fish -- as always -- is worth the trip.
- Doug Marchakatus is tweaking and adding beers at Manayunk: "It's a constantly evolving brewery," he said. Manyunk's beer is like an archeological dig: you can still see evidence of each of the prior brewers, all the way back to Tom Cizauskas. Doug's St. Alpha Belgo-IPA has a beguiling aroma of apricots.
- I finally got to Shank's Tavern in Marietta, after trying to hit it when it's open for years (really. Years.), and it was worth the wait: neat old bar, good fresh beers (decent assortment of local crafts on tap and bottle) and an excellent bowl of chili that really hit the spot on a cold afternoon before the snow started falling. Walked down to McCleary's Pub, too, ridiculously close in this tiny town, and had one of the shortest, tastiest pub crawls I remember.
- Talked to Bill Moore at Lancaster Brewing and got the important nub of the recent management shift (Christian Heim and John Frantz were fired on Dec. 30): plans for a production facility are on hold, but "I wouldn't say it's completely off the table." With all their bottles currently being done at The Lion, and Bill working his long-time wholesaler connections to build sales, a production facility could fit in Lanc's future nicely...just sayin'.
- Paul Rutherford is doing some beastly good lagers at Iron Hill Lancaster; had his brand-new helles yesterday, and it was bread-fresh, spot-on accurate.
- Spring House's Planet Bean Coffee Stout has a huge amount of coffee flavor without the bottom-of-the-pot bean bitterness you get in some coffee beers. Nicely done.
- Swashbuckler brewer Mark Braunwirth has a hellish good kölsch on, and their pub (right beside the...pirate ship) is open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday through April. Good chance to try Mark's truly good beers without the whole RenFaire thing...
- Tom Baker at Earth, Bread + Brewery ("Please don't call it "Earth Bread"", said Peggy. "It sounds like bread made of dirt.") told me he'd made his 48th beer since opening, "and none of them were the same." So that's one plan that's working...
- Carol Stoudt told me the Stoudt's Gold has been picking up strongly in sales lately; anecdotal evidence of something I expect to see: people who don't normally drink "craft beer" discovering that "craft beer" doesn't necessarily mean "hoppy, strong, and dark."
- Kutztown Tavern is running 11 beers these days. "We've found our niche," said brewer Bob Sica (a NJ guy who thought he was going to be a musician and started brewing on the side...and now does an acoustic set at the brewery every Saturday night...he found his niche, too). "We hustled for outside accounts for a while, but I couldn't do 11 taps here if I still was." They've got a bottle shop out front with a good craft selection...and the biggest selection of cheap-ass beers and malt liquors I've ever seen. Hey, college town, right?
- The General Lafayette is still open, and Chris Leonard is getting by on what sounds like about 8 hours of sleep a week. He's finally given in, and is brewing a new line of beers: Copper Crow, starting with an IPA.
- Tried four beers at Dock Street, and they were uniformly excellent; Rosemarie poured me a glass of the Boho Pils that was simply beer porn, looked good enough to lick; I took a picture and posted it on Facebook.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Bits & Pieces
Still really busy writing PA Breweries 4th, but I wanted to tell you a few things I came across.