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Monday, July 20, 2009

Flying Fish Exit 11, Swift Half, Goat Burritos, and all that

So much has been happening, I've fallen behind. I won't apologize, but I will try to get caught up!

I went to the launch party -- two of them, actually -- for Flying Fish's new special release, Exit 11 Hoppy American Wheat, last Tuesday. I first went to Standard Tap, parking right outside Cantina dos Segundos on 2nd St. (foreshadowing alert...). Went in, ran into PR ace Jennie Hatton and FF brewer/genius/loonie Casey Hughes, who jointly directed me upstairs, where I got into a round-the-room how-are-you pattern that took me five minutes to get through to the bar. I was early for the launch, so I got a Farmhouse Ale, and it was (according to my notes) "just perfect fresh, cold, and clean." I love the taps at Standard.

Then it was time for the Exit 11, an American wheat, on the big side at 6.2% (50/50 pale malt/wheat), hopped with Columbus, Palisades, and Amarillo, and then two whacking great lumps of Amarillos in dry-hopping.

How is it? Buzzing with Amarillo, buster: peppery citrus with some sweet malt under it, and that slicey-acidic cut from well-done wheat. Why wheat, I asked Casey, because if there's one craft beer style I just cannot figure out the reason for its continued existence, it's American wheat. "Because I wanted to make a wheat I liked," he said, confirming my judgment of both American wheat and Casey Hughes.

There were some other food/beer press folks there -- Felicia D'Ambrosio, Kirsten Henri (who'd just fired up Grub Street Philadelphia, congrats) -- and bloggers (yeah, I mean you, Bryan), and some folks who looked suspiciously mainstream. When we moved over to Swift Half (more on that shortly) CBS 3 showed up. Whatdahell?

Well, it's all about the free publicity the whackos at MADD New Jersey gave Flying Fish by fulminating that the Exit Series was somehow insulting to them. "The combination of a roadway and advertising for any kind of a beer doesn't make any kind of sense," executive director Mindy Lazar was quoted in a wide-spread AP story. "This is almost a mockery." Almost? Honey, you are a mockery...of your own crazy self. Happily, there has been an almost universal reaction to this: MADD is over the top, silly, and taking itself way too seriously. Hey, MADD: go back to what you do best, raising awareness about drunk driving.

Ah, me. Anyway, as I said, after a while, a lot of us trooped over to Swift Half, the new bar at the Piazza at Schmidt's. The Piazza is quite pleasing, and will lure even more folks to this area (hopefully not more drug dealers and murderers...), a space that should be emulated elsewhere. Swift Half is very nice, especially the relatively large outdoor space on the piazza. Good beer selection, but I wanted a stout, and they had none at the time. So I got a Dark and Stormy, and it was good.

Sipped that for a while, then had some of the new (recipe) Yards Saison (Okay, what happened was that Steve Mashington asked me how come I never wrote about Yards beers, and I asked him how come everyone else sent me samples...and he bought me a half of Saison (which, by the way, is the great freakin' thing about Swift Half, you can get a pint, or half a pint, something more beer bars should do -- like every one of them, hmm?)). It's ballsier than the old Saison, which always seemed more like a slightly gutsier witbier to me...but I'd like it to be a bit more attenuated, this is almost more like a spicy biere de garde. Note to brewers: Lew's a pain in the butt. (Yes, I know, it's not really news.)

I finally decided it was time to get home, but I was hungry. Mashington suggested Paesano's and I was all for it, but when I got to the Jetta (not too far to walk to Paesano's, but I wanted to be able to hop in it and go home when I was done)...there was dos Segundos, and I was hungry now, and I saw the word "goat." Long story short, I went in, sat at the bar, and had a goat burrito with a side of refried black beans and a Sunshine Pils. Good? The burrito was good, plenty of goat in it, the beans were good. Beer was okay, and cold. Bad? Took forever to get the bartender to understand that yes, I knew that there were beans in the burrito, but yes, I did indeed want a side of refries. I finally had to say, "Look, I like beans, okay?" And the side of beans was 3 bucks, which seems a bit stiff to me (beans? Cheap like dirt, brother). So a goat burrito, beans, and one beer was $17, in a place that was dark, noisy, and very detached in service. I think I should have listened to Mashington.

Anyway, that was my day last week. All in all, a good evening.


Bryan Kolesar said...

** smiles nervously and waves, all the while keeping a safe distance **

sam k said...

Goat burritos? I used to raise goats, and they're extremely intelligent animals, unlike sheep and cows, which are dumb enough to DESERVE to be eaten. I think I'd have a hard (but not impossible) time eating goat, much like I might have if I tried eating dog (...poor Penderyn...RUN, MAUD, RUN!).

Might have tried that burrito anyway, though.

Jay said...

I agree wholeheartedly with your comment about half pints - they are one of my favorite ways to spend time at a bar if available. Even though I typically know what the answer will be, I often ask the bartender if they "serve beer in half pints?" before ordering my first drink

Now... American wheat - I'd like to hear more of your thoughts on the style when you have a chance. Just curious really...

Lew Bryson said...

I hear pigs are pretty smart too, Sam. I still eat 'em.

Steven said...

Sam, Horses are supposed to be even dumber than cows -- how's come we don't eat them? ;)

And I'm sure Sam wouldn't be happy about the 3 goatskin jackets in my closet! No pig though, Lew.

Anonymous said...

So, I'm just wondering if all of MADD's efforts have been directed at FF's new beer series or if hey have a history of going after breweries that name beers after roads? Regardless, they are clearly beating a dead horse here, bt still... There are other breweries which have nemed beers after roads. It seems that it would actually add some credibiity to their arguement rather than coming across like a witch hunt.

sam k said...

Steven, no problem on the tanned-hide products thing. I love goatskin gloves!

Heck, the horse freaks have had LAWS PASSED that keep us from enjoying a chunk of old Dobbin! How bizarre is that?

Alan said...

Mindy Lazar actually indicated she did not have an issue with the branding:

"Lazar said Friday that she now understands that the brewery opposes drinking and driving, and she isn't so offended by the promotion.

I am not, however, certain where in the flow of discourse she said that in relation to your comment.

Lew Bryson said...

She clearly changed her position, says so. But why on earth would she have believed that the brewery didn't oppose drinking and driving? She saw the reaction, and changed course after her initial knee-jerk reaction.

That is definitely an updated version of the story, which is many people get to re-do their quotes in an AP story, I wonder, especially when they weren't misquoted, but just changed their minds?

As for your link, Alan, I agree almost 100%. Craft brewers and craft beer drinkers do NOT take this seriously enough.

J T. Ramsay said...

Segundos lives up to its name inasmuch as it's second rate and wildly overpriced. They do have a market advantage in that they can capitalize on the fearful denizens who live in the strip mall known as the Piazza. I'll never go back to that place. It's funny, because Steve Simons spot on Passyunk isn't half bad!

Why venture up N. 5th to Taco Riendo when you can get high rent Mexican food right outside your dormitory, er, apartment?

Donnerparty said...

I have not acquired a taste for goat quite yet. I was disappointed by it and only ate half.

I totally agree with JT. Go to Taco Riendo. Get the Pork spare Ribs in the Cactus Stew. It is on the spicier side (a warning to those who walk on the mild side) but one of the best Mexican dishes I have had in the city. Plus the place is BYOB.