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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Busy, busy, busy

I've got a lot to do today and tomorrow before leaving for the Kentucky Bourbon Festival on Thursday, so I'm going to shove a lot into this post and get back to work.

Let's see...last Friday I got a call from Dean Browne, the big Canadian fella (who, concidentally, I spent some quality time with sipping whiskey at last year's Kentucky Bourbon Festival) who does brewing and all-round stuff at Philadelphia Brewing Co. (while working as wallah of some kind, I'm not clear on that). His third job is brewing for Porterhouse Pub out in Lahaska, which is why he called. Dean has four lagers on at the Pub now, and he asked me if I wanted to come out and taste them. So I did.

Dean lined up four lagers for me: Phightin' Philsner, Left Field, North, and Peacekeeper. All four were clean, well-brewed, and drinkable; a little detail is in order, because I think they maybe need some small tweaks. The Philsner was good -- hoppy, drinkable -- but needed to be crisper; it had a bit too much body for a pils. Left Field was a Vienna style, and I pretty much liked it the way it was, and it was the beer I went for a pint of; could maybe use a bit deeper color, but that's quibbling. North was a dry-hopped deep amber; good, but if you're going to dry-hop, I'd go a bit bigger on that. Peacekeeper is a Baltic porter (named in honor of the Canadian Armed Forces and their usual mission) that was pretty damned good for a 6% Baltic (before any of you go off, there are Baltics in that range); I'd maybe like to see some more attenuation here...but you want some beef to a Baltic, so maybe I'm just being picky. Wouldn't hurt to go a bit bigger and pick up beef that way. Anyway, four good lagers (plus PBC beers like Walt Wit and Kenzinger) makes a good reason to visit Porterhouse (as if the excellent food and sweet ambiance weren't enough). Nice job, Dean; and I only pick cuz you asked.

Yesterday Cathy and I were invited to Iron Hill North Wales to sample their new Oktoberfest two-course Oktoberfest dinner...and hang out with brewer Larry Horwitz on his birthday, since his new wife, Whitney, had to work late. I had a glass of Dunkel, which was delicious: clean, malty, just a hint of chocolate. Two courses: a sausage 'salad' of grilled bratwurst and knockwurst arranged on a nicely done warm lentil salad, with mustard and some kind of watercress-like greens; and roasted pork loin (Iron Hill chefs are pig-meat geniuses) with gingersnap gravy, chunky mashed potatoes, and baby carrots. A very nice meal, quite German (except for those greens!), and perfect with another glass of Dunkel. I had coffee with a piece of apple-raspberry pie we split three ways; also very good, with a sweet streusel topping. Whew. Gonna have to hit the bike trail mid-day.

Later this week, as I said, I'm headed for Kentucky. Dinner with Maker's Mark Man Bill Samuels, the Bourbon Hall of Fame induction ceremony, the Bourbonian Taster of the Year competition, and, of course, The Gala: a full schedule, and I will definitely attempt to blog more of it this year. (Honestly, Sam, the real issue is finding wi-fi in Bardstown!) I'll also be hitting the liquor stores to find only-in-Kentucky bottlings...because I don't have enough bourbon...

And then the following weekend, September 27, Mark and I will be signing New Jersey Breweries at the Borders in Marlton, from 1 to 3 in the afternoon (and you might find me picking up a pizza for dinner at Pietro's, after). Come on out and see us!

Of course...if you do, that means that you, like us, will be missing the Philly Oktoberfest '08, a big gala of German and German-type beers put on at the 23rd Street Armory: food, music, and BEER. Tickets are $45, there's also a $75 VIP ticket, and it runs from 1 to 5 PM (VIP session starts at noon). Get all the info here. Believe me, if I weren't at the booksigning, I'd be there.

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