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.
  • 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 k├Âlsch 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.
  • Holy crap: the big Sam Adams brewery (I call it that because there's a big Sam Adams sign over the entrance) up outside of Allentown (you know; the former Schaeffer/Stroh/Pabst brewery/Diageo malt drink mixer-uppery) is rocking: 30,000 pounds of malt per batch, crazy amount of tank space, and all Boston Beer production now in-house. No longer a contract brewer. Wow. A seismic shift.
  • 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.  
And a bunch of other stuff...but I gotta get back to writing. Cheers!


Richard said...

Lew, it looks like Rosemarie poured you an excellent German "slow pour" of the Boho Pils. I need to enjoy one of those beauties as well as the Helles at the Lancaster IH. And good to hear Stoudts Gold Lager is seeing an increase in sales.

It's really great to hear that their is an expanding group of brewers making lagers part of their brewing repertoire. I love my lagers!!

Cheers - Richard

P.S. I got a growler of Victory's Harvest Pils ready for some enjoyment later this afternoon after the snow shoveling marathon is completed.

Stan Hieronymus said...

Isn't research fun?

sam k said...

Thanks for the first kaleidoscopic view of PA breweries in what...weeks? Good news about all of them, for the most part.

A question: now that Sam Adams is in full swing at Fogelsville, do you know how they're portioning out the stainless and copper sides of the brewery? Are certain brands brewed exclusively on either side, or are they being used interchangeably?

P.S. Otto's has a delicious and incredibly mellow nut brown on cask right now...perfect timing for this weather!

Lew Bryson said...

Copper's not being used right now, Sam. Lots of stuff still being done, and lots of things still being considered. There's a whole section of the brewhouse that's not in service. They're cleaning, repairing, changing, and upgrading, and that looks to go on for a while. Lot of automation added -- the staff is about half of what it was in the Stroh/Pabst days -- but that's the way of the industry.

And yeah, it's been 2 weeks since I posted PA brewery news. I'm writing for the book, what can I say?

Marc said...

Glad to see somethings written about the Lancaster group of Breweries. I really feel that this part of the state holds its own! BUT, when is York going to join the Party??!

Lew Bryson said...

Funny you should mention that...I was just talking to someone yesterday about why York was lagging so badly. They said it was the York police: according to this person, the York force has a long-term cultural thing about hassling bars, busting people who walk out and get in a car regardless of condition, and so on. Don't know if it's true or not, but York does seem to be lagging Lancaster, Harrisburg, and even Hanover/Gettysburg. What's up?

Marc said...

I did see that they are working on opening one in the southeastern part of the county, but Iron Hill and Troegs is probably closer to York than the proposed brewery. I would open one, but I enjoy consuming much more than brewing!

ryan said...

I don't know if you've ever got the chance when in marietta, but bully's pub, across route 30 in columbia has the best selection of beers that i've found in the area. I used to be a die hard mcclearys fan but now have to work a timeshare between the two. The bartender, Jared, seems to know his stuff. Just lettin you know in case you pass through again.

Anonymous said...

have you gotten down to Bully's in Columbia? its a great beer bar in an awesome old building...

Syllogism said...

I remember you doing a piece on the oyster stout from Yards... you might enjoy this piece in the Boston Globe.

Also, you might want to check out T.J Smith's on 611 in Doylestown, old Luigis, right near the VW dealership. Good beer selection. Had the Sam Adams "Noble Pils" there, and it was actually drinkable. Do you know if that is being brewed here in PA yet?



Lew Bryson said...

Noble Pils is being brewed at the PA brewery, yes.