Sunday, December 2, 2012

Holiday Cheer

It was Thanksgiving in Connecticut and in addition to the traditional Chardonnay and Cabernet, this year I presented a variety of craft beers to accompany the meal. While this new twist on the holiday beverage selection was met with some initial opposition, it soon became apparent that craft beer could hold its own against wine for any meal.

The first beer I presented was a Belgian Triple from St. Feuillien It paired very well with a creamy goat’s milk triple cream brie by Portneuf, and a more aggressive gorgonzola. The crisp, bright notes of the St. Feuillien balanced out the richness of the cheese, but were never overpowering. It is this balance that also let the triple work well with the sweet, briny shrimp we served as a second appetizer. Again, some clung to their trusty Chardonnay, but those who tased the St. Feuillien, agreed it was a welcome addition.

For the main course, I wanted to offer two distinctly different beers based on what the guests wanted. For those who wanted to stick with white wine, I offered a clean, crisp Radeberger Pilsner, and for those who preferred a stronger red, I offered a Maredsous Abbey Brown Ale. These two beers masterfully handle the complexity of flavors at a Thanksgiving table (turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, etc). The Radeberger was a nice counter-balance to the rich, buttery flavors, while the Maredsous was a fine compliment to creamy potatoes, earthy stuffing, and herbed, roast turkey.

For the desert, a classic pumpkin pie, the craft beer was a clear cut homerun. I presented two seasonal winter ales: Southern Tier 2XMAS, and Ithaca Cold Front. The cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves notes were nothing short of brilliant when paired with the very same ingredients in the pie. Yes, I know, a tasty pumpkin ale could have served the purpose, but I had an alterior motive: to bring these very ales to the Christmas dinner table. All in all, it was a grand meal, and helped support the case that craft beer is a good meal’s best friend.

Happy holidays to all,


Friday, November 16, 2012

Keegan's Brewery - Kingston, NY

Built in an unassuming brick factory on the outskirts of Kingston , NY is Keegan's Brewery.  The low key facade hides a large space that looks as if it could house well over 100 people.  There is a huge projector TV that shows NFL games on Sundays. The menu is short but very well prepared.

Their beer list is diverse but their flagship is aptly named Mother's Milk Stout.  It's rich and creamy like a chocolate shake.  For those who need even more flavor, try their Jo Mama's Milk Imperial Stout.  It adds a dose of coffee to all that sweetness and jacks the ABV up to 8%.  

If you are lucky, like we were, you'll catch Tommy Keegan at the bar.  We sat and talked beer for a while.  He spoke of living upstairs above the brewery for the first couple of years before his beer really caught on.  Tommy is about as down-to-Earth as they come.  

Makes me happy when I tap one of his kegs at Growler & Gill to support a local business man who is also a great guy.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Terrapin Pumpkinfest Review: The Perfect Marriage of Pumpkin Beer and Oktoberfest

Terrapin Pumpkinfest Review: The Perfect Marriage of Pumpkin Beer and Oktoberfest

Autumn is the greatest for seasonal beer releases, simply because that's when Pumpkin craft beers and traditional Oktoberfest beers are released.  Why did it take this long for somebody to come along and decide to brew both together?  We don't really know but we're glad that Terrapin finally came to the mind blowing decision to do so.

This wasn't exactly the easiest task either, traditionally an oktoberfest is a lager and a pumpkin beer is an ale.  This meant that Terrapin had to find a way to mix the two beer styles and marry their flavors effectively at the same time.  The end result was pumpkinfest, a pumpkin lager.

They did an impressive job albeit difficult circumstances.  The beer stands up very much so overall as a pumpkin beer rather than an oktoberfest.

The smell has a very strong smell of pumpkin and pumpkin pie spices but also opens up with a very rich malty scent.

The taste itself initially is more akin to a traditional oktoberfest beer but on the back end opens up to a pumpkin flavor with plenty of pumpkin pie spices (cinnamon, vanilla, cloves, nutmeg).  But what keeps it balanced in between the pumpkin and oktoberfest is definitely the marriage of the pumpkin flavors with a bready and caramel malt flavor all throughout.

Overall it is an impressive brew, it might not be my first choice for the fall season but it does accomplish two beer styles in one.  I'm rather excited to see if other breweries take on this task, I'd be interested to see what others could come up with.

Check last weeks first pumpkin review of the season (Dogfish Head Punkin Ale).

Terrapin Pumpkinfest 7.5/10

Monday, September 24, 2012

Beer Barrel Bourbon Whiskey: Not What You Think It Is

No, we didn't just title this post backwards.  This one really is about Beer Barrel Bourbon Craft Whiskey not Bourbon Barrel Aged Craft Beer.

The one and only New Holland Brewing Co and Artisan Spirits of Michigan has elected to start reversing this great barrel aging process.  It's well known in the craft industry that old bourbon barrels make for great beer, but nobody yet has tried this reverse process (nobody we know of at least).

New Holland will be using barrels from their famed Dragon's Milk Stout which itself is aged in Bourbon Barrels.

Here's some information from New Holland itself,

"Beer Barrel Bourbon is first aged in new American oak barrels for several years, before a three month beer-y slumber. The beer-barrel aging lends biscuity notes and a smooth malt character to the robust whiskey tones of toffee and caramel."

I don't know about you guys, but this is something I'm rather excited for.  I love beer, I love whiskey and I really love Bourbon Barrel Aged Beer.  It seems only logical that most of us out there seeking artisan crafted drinks will naturally enjoy Beer Barrel Bourbon.

Keep an eye out this goodness should be released on the first of October.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Beer and Nuclear Weapons; A Match Made In Heaven?

According to "Operation Teapot" a government funded study on the effect of nuclear explosions on commercially packaged beverages beer will be drinkable post apocalypse.

Now I'm not going to sit here and pretend I know anything about nuclear weapons or an impending apocalypse but I sure as hell know beer.  Check out this great blog for the details of the test in a more scientific manner,

What we're taking away here at the Tri State Beer Blog though is plain and simple.  Our obsession with drinking and keeping plenty of beer in our "cellars' is now entirely justifiable.  If the world does indeed meet it's end on the 21st of December this year through some means of nuclear war and you happen to find yourself in a bunker made of stolen trailers and food trucks ( beer must be your drink of choice.

Take this as a sign from the beer gods and go out and buy more beer than you already do, on a weekly or dare I say daily basis.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Pumpkin Season Is Upon Us: Dogfish Head Punkin Beer Review

Craft Beer Pumpkin season is upon us.  Yes it might be a little early, but who am I to tell these breweries to put Pumpkin production on hold until the fall weather has taken over.  It’s a real catch-22, because as much as I’d love to hold off on grabbing and drinking these pumpkins until Mother Nature has given me the okay, they’re fresh RIGHT now.  What’s better than fresh beer? Well nothing obviously.

With that said, I’m going to review our first pumpkin beer of the season or should I say our first Punkin.  It may not be the highest rated Pumpkin brew on Beer Advocate but it certainly is the most reviewed, crushing the competition.

Dogfish Head Punkin Ale with a Sandwich

Pumpkin brews can really be divided into two sectors, full bodied and light bodied.  Punkin is certainly part of the former group.  It is a full-bodied brown ale with just subtle hints of the pumpkin characteristics.  Unlike some of the sweet, cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar bombs that other breweries produce.

The beer pores a beautiful light amber color with a veracious white head that really sticks around in the glass for some time.  The smell is not a smack in the face of pumpkin but more subtle pumpkin with hints of various spices.  As for the flavor it is a brown ale through and through, far more nutty flavor in this one than most pumpkin ales.  The taste begins with the nutty brown mixed with the pumpkin flavor and some cinnamon, and it finishes off with a slight spice that doesn’t overwhelm the palette as other pumpkins do.

There’s a reason that Dogfish Head is quickly becoming one of the nations largest microbreweries, they make damn good beer in ever sector.  Per the usual they do so with a twist, this is set apart from the others because it’s not your typical spice bomb but a full bodied well-rounded brown ale with pumpkin flavors mixed in well throughout.

Check out last years Great Pumpkin Tasting done by the Tri State Beer Blog right here,

Dogfish Head Punkin Ale 8.5/10

Saturday, September 8, 2012

City Swiggers - Reviewing an NYC Craft Beer Bar/Bottle Shop

City Swiggers is a brand new beer bar that opened it's doors on the Upper East Side of NYC in late 2011.  It has been making waves in the NYC Craft Beer scene ever since.  Over the past few years bottle shops and beer bars have sprung up all over Manhattan but City Swiggers is the first of it's kind on the Upper East.

The Upper East has always had the "ritzy" feel to it and thus most people assumed it was a wine neighborhood.  Due to the explosion of high quality craft beer in the past several years, beer now transcends class levels.

The Upper East Side establishment is multi purposed.  If you're just looking to pick a few up you can do that.  If you're trying to sit down and have a beer off tap they do that too.  Lastly, if you find the bottle you're looking for and simply can't make it home without cracking it open, they do that too.

Now if you're a true Craft Beer Geek you know where all the great spots to pick up your latest Haul in NYC are.  More specifically you sure as heck know which places are going to gouge their prices, and so you don't go there anymore.

City Swiggers has some of the best prices I've ever seen in the city that never sleeps.  I might even dare to say that their prices were as good or lower than prices I've seen outside of the expensive bubble that is Manhattan.

As for the location itself the beer shop/bar has a nice location on East 86th and the setting itself is a great scene.  Beautiful Hard wood floors and pristine white walls littered with paintings, this place is definitely not the beer distributor down the block from your house.

The space is long and narrow with wood shelves in the front full of domestic craft and as you move into the back it changes to steel shelves full of international brews.  I guess they ran out of funding and couldn't afford wood for the whole place?

As for the real meat and potatoes of this joint (the beer).  The selection was rather solid, nothing spectacular but they definitely had selections you can't simply find in your local grocery store.  Some more difficult to come by Sours or Barrel Aged brews would have been to my liking and I'm sure many others.

At least they allow mixed sixers, which is one of my overall pet peeves about bottle shops, making my own sixers is simply a must.  And they also allow you to crack the bottle open right there for a respectable 4 dollar corkage fee, who doesn't want to knock one back while they figure out what they're taking home?

The only other downside was the customer service.  I spent about 20 minutes in the store along side three other customers.  There might have been a total of four words spoken.  This falls squarely on the shoulders of the man behind the counter (the owner maybe? if only he spoke to me I might know).  I made a concerted effort to strike up conversation with the owner and even one of the other customers, no dice.

A knowledgable fellow behind the counter can make all the difference, especially if he's friendly and strikes up conversation with his customers.  I will always prefer a boisterous beer shopping experience full of conversation with my fellow customers and the "craft expert" behind the counter.

All in all it was a good experience, and next time I'm on the Upper East Side I'll be swinging by City Swiggers again, although I won't be heading up there just for the sole purpose of visiting.

For a similar experience well north of the City in Putnam County,  check out one of our  review of The Hop in Beacon, NY.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Stone Collaboration With Stillwater and Evil Twin Brewing Details - The Perfect Crime

Stone, the SoCal Craft Beer giant, has been leaking details of their newest collaboration beer in conjunction with Stillwater of Maryland and Evil Twin Brewing of Minnesota via their twitter feed in the past several hours.

"The Perfect Crime" as it will be called is set to be brewed by Brian of Stillwater, Mitch of Stone and Jeppe from Evil Twin Brewing.  To produce the Smoked Black Saison with Oak Smoaked Wheat they will employ the following hops and malts.  They will be using Cluster, East Kent Goldings and Chinook Hops, as well as Wheat Malt, Oats and Carafa for the malt.

All of this information has been pulled together through Stone's Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feed.
The photo below of Jeppe of Evil Twin was found on their Instagram.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Growler & Gill Craft Beer Shoppe reaches it's goal!

Wow!!  We were blown away by the support Growler & Gill Craft Beer Shoppe received on our Kickstarter campaign.  95 people from our community and across the country each donated between $10 and $1000 to see us succeed.  Now we can't fail.  We have begun the process of picking local contractors from Rockland County to begin the hard job of turning our space in Nanuet into a cool, comfortable place to enjoy craft beer.  We will be posting pictures both here and on Growler & Gill's Facebook page as work progresses.  So stay tuned!!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Help Kickstart our Craft Beer Shoppe

Doreen and I have embarked on a craft beer journey more exciting than any of our previous adventures.  We've decided to open Growler & Gill Craft Beer Shoppe.  We have secured a space and are now in the process of making it into a cool comfortable spot to experience the world of craft beer. To that end, we have turner to Kickstarter to help us out.  Check out our  Kickstarter Video and become part of our Beer Odyssey!  You can also follow our progress on Facebook or Twitter .  If you are a Craft Beer lover or have friends who are, please Share this page with others by using the Facebook and Twitter buttons below.  Cheers!!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Bud Light Platinum

By Tom
I stopped by my local beverage center today and saw that they were doing a tasting...of Bud Light Lime and Bud Light Platinum.  I thought to myself, “seriously?”. I did want to at least taste the new Platinum and I saw this as a good opportunity to try it for free.  No need to try BL Lime - I actually like that one under the right circumstances. The BL Platinum is sweeter version of Bud Light with a 6% ABV and it comes in a cool blue bottle.  AB Inbev, who owns Budweiser, is trying to win back some people who have left the fold for better craft beer.   If I was at a party and that’s all there was, I’d probably have a few too many, but I wouldn’t choose it over anything decent.
The girl doing the samples was young and very pretty...I think she liked me because I got a cool hat.
OK, anyone who asked could get one too. I also tried 3 of the “Shock Top” beers: Raspberry Wheat Ale, which was actually OK, not too sweet, very light; Lemon Shandy which is horrible, I don’t like lemon in beer, all other citrus - yes, lemon – no.   Finally there was Shock Top Wheat IPA. It doesn’t taste like an IPA, it only has the very mildest hop flavor but I think it’d be an acceptable hot day beer. This one in particular might be a good starter beer for someone looking to broaden their horizons from the macro brews. A baby step. That’s the best I can say for these “macro-craft” beers.
I don’t think I’d ever actually buy any of these unless the choices were extremely limited. I felt a twinge of guilt as I, donning my new Bud Light Lime cap, paid for my bombers of Hop Stoopid and Hop Manna IPA.   Hop Manna is a really nice, refreshing IPA which is significantly lower on the bitterness scale than Hop Stoopid, somewhat reminiscent of Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra. Though Hop Manna is made here in NY by Shmaltz Brewing, the cascade, citra and centennial hops give it that wonderful west coast aroma and taste.  Mission accomplished!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Dos Costas Oeste

Happy Mother’s Day beer lovers!  We broke into my brother’s stash of “special” bottles over the weekend to celebrate the holiday.  In the beer frig were some hold overs from the fall like Pumpking  and three bottles with matching labels. 
 These beers are a collaboration between Cigar City Brewing in Tampa FL and The Bruery in Placentia, CA, hence the name, which translates to “Two West Coast Breweries”.  Both breweries produce outstanding beer so I was expecting quite a treat.  First, Why 3 different bottles?  It turns out that the brewers wanted to experiment with aging this saison in 3 different types of wood: Cedar, Grapefruit wood and lemon wood.  The bottle we opened over Mother’s Day dinner was the red -labeled, cedar variety.
So on a beautiful May afternoon, I poured this deep orange beer into a goblet and took in its aroma.  I could detect Belgian yeast and coriander, but could not pick up the other ingredients right away.  My sister-in-law Irene noticed the orange scent, but no one could tell that ginger is also used in this brew.  These flavors mixed well on the palate as we drank it.  The fruity overtones made it perfect for this spring day.  At 9% ABV, it’s not meant to drink all day long.  But as a precursor to a great meal it was right on the mark.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Sugar Plum - Cigar City Brewing Co.

I just picked up this beer on a whim because I saw the word "sugar" on the label.  I was also anxious to try another offering from Cigar City which does exceptional things with malty beers.
It’s a seasonal beer brewed in Tampa, FL and meant to be enjoyed at Christmas time.  I know it’s getting into spring, but I have trouble saying “No” to dark, sweet beers.  The bottle did not even make it into my frig, so it’s being poured at about 50 degrees which is probably just about right for this brown ale. 
It has an amber hue with a healthy tan froth on top.  The head dissipates slowly leaving a fine lace on my glass.  The nose is more malt than fruit.  The taste has a nice balance of toasty malt and raisin sweetness.  It reminds me of their other brown ale called Bolita, only with more sweetness.  I like the way the sweetness mellows the dryness so my mouth isn’t too chalky like it can get after a stout like Guinness. 
I would prefer a darker color and a little more creamy mouth feel.  Bolita has the creaminess down better IMO.  Overall, I found this to be a solid brown ale with lots of flavor

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Hoppin’ Frog Silk Porter

The weather here in New York has taken a turn for the worse and it feels like we are back in March again.  It’s cold and drizzly with no sign of the sun for the last couple of days.  It’s the perfect time to break into a porter!  The Hoppin’ Frog Silk Porter is brewed in Akron, Ohio and I bought it back in January to warm the cold nights. It’s a 22oz bomber with a 6.2% ABV that set me back $8.29.  So I’m expecting big things. 
Here’s the report: 

Pour: Completely opaque, dark as motor oil

Head: Foamy and tan head that leaves a healthy lace after a few minutes

Nose:  Slight chocolate that is followed by a taco smell

Taste : Toasty, trying to be chocolate by not quite achieving it. Not bad, just not enough chocolate to make me happy.  A little toasty bitterness lingers in my mouth which is not unpleasant (“Like”)

Mouth feel:  Definitely lives up to its name: silky as can be.
Overall: Nice drinking experience.  Misses the mark by just a bit.  I’m thinking that the age might have something to do with it.  The bottle says “Keep Refrigerated” which I did not heed.  Though it has been stored in my garage which hasn't been above 50 degrees.  Still, I’d love to have another fresh one to compare it to right now while its fresh in my mind.  I will have to find one and give it a taste before the weather warms up and I’m on to lighter beers for a while.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Breukelen Bier Merchants – Craft Beer Store or Bar or Both?

Brooklyn is a hot bed of craft beer activity.  Everyone has heard of the popular Brooklyn Brewery and the up and coming Six Point Brewery.  What many people are not aware of is that this borough has spawned several of the best beer stores and bars in the Tristate area.

Some of these establishments are actually both beer store AND bar.  They routinely get the highest ratings on beer web sites by beer geeks and novices alike.  Breukelen Bier Merchants in the Williamsburg section has created a craft beer lovers heaven.  I was there recently with a friend and we were able to experience, first hand, what all the buzz is about. 
When I walked into this beer “store” my first impression was: “this would be a cool place to hang out”.   The comfortable tables and furniture, along with the board games and picnic tables in the back, made me feel like staying for a while.   They boast a bottle inventory 500 beers strong; any of which can be opened right there and consumed in the store.  Heaven you say, wait there’s more.
I could also choose from 16 draught beers from all over the country.  I chose a hefe weisse from Uinta Brewing Company (pronounced "winta") in Salt Lake City, Utah.  It was light and lemony; perfect for a spring day.  If I was hungry, I could have indulged in a pressed sandwich or cheese plate, but I was there for the beer.

We spent some time talking to one of the owners who said that they will be celebrating their one year anniversary next week with three days of activities and events.  She said, “We have been really well received by the neighborhood and our second year should be even better as the craft beer movement grows”.
Before we left, I had to fill up a growler to go.  Boulder Buffalo Gold is brewed in Colorado and at 4.5% ABV is a fantastic session beer. No, I didn’t sit down and kill the whole 64 oz right there in the store; though I imagine I would have been allowed to.  I took it home and split it with my wife over dinner.  This beer has one of the sweetest finishes I’ve experienced.  It tastes like it’s made with honey though I haven’t confirmed that yet.

So if you find yourself in Brooklyn, or anywhere in the city for that matter, get your butt down to the Bier Merchants and experience a little slice of heaven in New York.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Hop in Beacon, NY

Happy Easter everyone!  I had a fun pre-holiday experience last night at the grand opening of a new craft beer store in the Hudson Valley.  The Hop in Beacon, NY opened its doors about a month ago, but yesterday officially announced its intentions of bringing craft beer to Dutchess County and beyond.

This cute little store at the end of Main Street has a fine selection of about 100 different beers for sale "to go" and another six on tap for growler or glass fills. They also have a section of local artisinal "beer" foods like cheeses, pickels and all kinds of sauces.  Their menu currently consists of a few sandwiches, soups, salads and some creative uses of beer and ice cream for dessert.

My wife Doreen and I arrived about a half hour early and the place already had a decent sized crowd.  People were ordering goblets and pints of draft beer and wandering around the store browsing the wine racks filled with 750ml bottles of craft beer.  We made our way to the bar and ordered a Dogfish Head Red and White and a hefe weissen from Sixpoint.  The latter was a little light for my taste but the Dogfish was exceptional.  This is a combination of a Belgian White Ale with red wine and it really works.  The fruitiness of the grapes and the slight hopping blended well on the palate. 

We each ordered a grilled cheese that was made with caramelized onions and was delicious.  WE met the rest of our group at the long, communal table in the center of the store that doubles as display case for some of their 12 ounce offerings.   We all received wrist bands from John Kelly who, along with 3 other locals, owns this establishment.  John and one of his partners are Culinary Institute grads and it shows in the design of the store (he built the communal table) and the presentation of the food and drink.   The wrist bands were to be used along with a ticket for one free beer at the “beer garden” behind the store. 
We walked out and around back to a fenced in area containing about a dozen tables, propane heaters and most importantly, more kegs.  They were pouring selections from Colorado’s Left Hand Brewery,  Lagunitas from California and  Westchester’s own Captain Lawrence.  I had the Captain’s Kolsch and found it crisp and refreshing. I was able to sample Left Hand’s Smoke Jumper which is an Imperial Porter.  This beer, which pays tribute to the brave souls who fight forest fires, had a wonderful smoked cheese flavor finished with a chocolate kiss.  The 9% ABV had a warming effect on this chilly night.

Back inside, we discovered that we could order any 750 ml bottle in house and drink it there for a $7 corking fee.  So we split a Founder's Crumudgeon's Better Half which is brewed in bourbon barrels with maple syrup and molasses. The sweetness led off every sip and complemented the whiskey finish nicely.

The overall feel of the The Hop was one of cool NYC beer bar in upstate New York.  There is not much else I could ask for in a craft beer store other than more selection on the bottle side.  But they just opened and I’m sure they will be adding to their list as time goes on.  This, along with the rotating tap list, will require another visit in the near future  . . .    What? Someone’s got to it.  Cheers!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Heady Topper at the Blind Tiger

by Rich

My friend, Doc and I had a nice day yesterday. We went into NYC for a Film Forum to catch a documentary about the recently deposed president of The Maldives. What you might find more interesting is that we stopped at the Blind Tiger for lunch before the movie and The Pony Bar on the way home.
The bartender at The Blind Tiger mentioned that they had a special event pairing Vermont beers and cheeses. He recommended an Imperial IPA called Heady Topper from The Alchemist Brewery in Waterbury, Vermont.  He mentioned that the ale is available in cans but is rarely seen on tap outside the brewery. It was, as you'd expect, a real blast of hops with enough malt smoothness to balance it somewhat but with 120 IBU's and 8% ABV this is not for the faint of heart.
The Pony Bar was offering a Flying Dog WildemanIPA as one of it's cask ales. The ingredients sounded interesting, among other things it contains elderberry and lavender. So, I thought I'd give it a try. It turned out to be one of the stranger brews I've had in a while. The lavender came through and we both thought the ale had an  interesting, almost medicinal quality. I asked the bartender if she had tried it and she poured herself a sample. She said it was weird but she liked it, definitely worth a try if you come across it.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Dogfish Head Saison du Buff

This beer comes with quite a pedigree.  It is a collaboration between Dogfish Head, Victory and Stone Brewing Company.  I wasn’t aware of the history of BUFF until I did some research.  It turns out that this beer is named for a meeting held by the heads of the three breweries back in 2003.  9 years ago Sam Calagione of Dogfish, Bill Covaleski of Victory, and Greg Koch from Stone formed Brewers United For Freedom of Flavor and  called a press conference to bring attention to the lack of choice in the mainstream beer world.  At the time only one journalist felt the need to attend.  

Fast forward to 2012: the craft beer wave has made these brands household names and turned Sam into a rock star.  Funny how things can change. 

Unfortunately, mainstream beer hasn’t changed: it’s still watered down and, for the most part, tasteless.  To show the world just how interesting and flavorful a beer can be, these three brewers have concocted a brew containing parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme (yeah, just like the song).  And I’m here to tell you: It works!

Similar to how these 3 idiosyncratic brewers were able to meld their own personalities together for the collaboration, the four spices blend nicely into a refreshing saisson. Here’s my tasting notes:
Pour:  Uniform fluffy white head

Nose:  Citrus with a slight hop fragrance

Taste:  Strong spice up front though one spice does not dominate, nice hoppy finish, not overpowering.

Aftertaste:  Now I’m getting some of that rosemary on the back of my tongue.

Overall: Very refreshing and drinkable.  At 6.8% ABV, it truly can be a go to session beer for the summer.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Wheat beers are Back!

Spring is starting to show itself here in the North East.  The days are warmer, the robins have returned from their winter vacations and wheat beers have returned to the shelves of my local beverage store.  Last summer, I proudly declared my l love for fruit flavored brews on a friend’s beer blog.  I also reviewed several excellent examples on this blog.  Now, I’m going to introduce you to offerings from two of the most popular craft beer breweries in this area: Ithaca Beer Co. and Troegs Brewing Co.

Dream Weaver Wheat Beer from Troegs in Harrisburg, PA is a nice drinkable beer.  It is not a true “fruit” beer because no fruit is added during the brewing process.  But, like many wheat beers, it has sweet fruit-like overtones.  This one has a banana and citrus taste that is very appealing.  With a 4.8% ABV it is the kind of beer you can bring to a cook out and have more than one.

Ithaca Apricot Wheat is brewed in our own upstate New York.  It has a wonderful floral nose and pours a pale gold. It carries a foamy white head that lasts throughout its short time in my glass.  The taste is not overly fruity; just an apricot finish that lingers and drives me to another sip.  This is one of the most popular beers in this class and it is easy to see why.  With its nice light taste and 4.9 % ABV, it’s sure make its way into my outdoor beer drinking arsenal this season. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Eddie’s Roadhouse – Warwick, NY

Let me tell you about a craft beer gem I came across recently.  Last weekend I dropped my son off at Mountain Creek Ski resort in Vernon, NJ and on the way home I called my friend Mark who lives in Warwick.  He had been raving about this great little bar on Main Street that served nothing but microbrews.  We met for lunch and I was impressed by everything I saw. 
The first thing I noticed when I sat down at the bar was that there were no TVs in the place.  Eddie, the owner’s son, told us that it was intentional in order to get people talking to each other. And sure enough, by the time I had left about an hour later, Mark and I had met virtually everyone at the bar. 
Another thing I liked about Eddie’s is that they only serve craft beer. They have about 8 taps pouring micros and foreign brews, but no big national brands.  Ed said that if someone orders a Coors Light he directs them to an IPA he always has flowing.  If they want Guinness he lets them taste a brown or black ale and watches their face light up. 

I told him I had been drinking Belgians lately and he introduced me to St. Bernardus Abt 12.  This abbey style quadruple ale is brewed by Brouwerij St. Bernard in Wantau, Belgium.  A “quadruple” is a strong, dark ale with a higher alcohol content then a double or tripel.  This one has a 10% ABV that is hidden pretty well by the fruity over tones. It was served in a matching glass which really delighted me – I love when stuff matches.
Eddie Senior walked in shortly after and I was introduced to this energetic man.  He told me that he always wanted to own a restaurant and The Roadhouse was his “dream come true”.  He and his son strive to create an authentic experience for their patrons.  They go so far as to bring in bands that play exclusively original music and on Wednesdays novices get to perform at an open mic.

I ordered fries with gravy to accompany my second beer which was a black IPA from Stone Brewing Co.  The fries were the perfect comfort food to complement the toasted flavor of the beer. It may have been cold outside, but I was feeling warm and toasty at Eddie’s Roadhouse.  So, if you’re ever on your way home from the slopes, come in out of the cold and find some comfort in Eddie's Roadhouse.