Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Mom's 74th Birthday Party

This weekend we celebrated my Mom’s birthday at my house.  We shared a lot of stories, laughs and, of course, a few beers.   My mother brought over an old picture of me and my brothers from about 35 years ago when we were kids.  That photo stimulated numerous stories about our growing up and a few laughs over the hair styles and clothes we wore back in the 70’s. Many of the stories revolved around how often we tried to kill each other either by accident or on purpose. 
One of my favorites is when my youngest brother, Pat, and I would pretend to be The Six Million Dollar Man and throw each other across the room.  My mom would pick up my dad from the bus stop at 7pm each night and, while she was gone, our wrestling matches would get a little more realistic.  One night, it got too physical and we ended up in a fist fight.  Being older and bigger, I had a distinct advantage in the fight until it moved to the kitchen where Pat found a knife.   He chased me around the dining room table with a crazy look in his eye.  I knew I just had to keep running until our parents got home from the bus stop, but sometimes I wonder what would have happened if he ever caught me. 

Today, what we don’t talk about, but is felt universally, is how close we are as adults. We all live in the same town less than a mile from each other.  Our kids all go to the same school and spend lots of time together.   And we find reasons to hang out together.  Whether it’s these family parties, hiking on Sunday mornings, watching each other’s kid’s sporting events, or sitting down over a good beer, we find ways to be in each other’s company. 

Being a parent of teenagers today, I can understand how hard it must have been for my parents, and my mom particularly being home with us the bulk of the time, to raise us.  My brothers and I are living through the trials and tribulations of raising teens right now.  Sometimes we talk fondly of that beach house we will retire to where nobody needs to be driven anywhere. But I think we will have considered ourselves successful parents if, when our kids are adults, they spend time together like we do. 

So mom, happy birthday and thanks for being such a successful parent.  You have earned a relaxing retirement and, hopefully, many more of these parties!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Oak Aged Pumpking

Pumpking is, hands down, my favorite beer.  This past fall, I held a blind taste test of 19 different pumpkin ales and Pumpking won by a mile. So when I heard that my local beverage center had a limited release oak-aged version on tap, I ran down and filled a growler for personal consumption.  At $22, including the bottle, it was not cheap, but I was hoping to have an outer body experience with this beer.  As soon as I got home I poured myself a nice big glass:

It pours similar to the original with a small head that dissipates quickly.  The oak has the same sweet caramel smell of its predecessor.  The first sip is sweet with a nice alcoholic bite.  A complex combination of tastes is roaming around my mouth.  The sweetness prevails but the woody taste is present.  And it’s that oaky flavor that lingers in my mouth the longest.  I’m not sure I like this as much as the original.  It is definitely a little more complex, but it’s the after taste that is remembered most.  It’s hard to put my finger, or my tongue, on exactly what I’m experiencing.  I’m reminded of painting my deck and the strong chemical smell of the paint thinner I used to clean the brushes. I guess some people like this experience, but I can’t say that I’m one of them.  It seems that this is a case of leaving good enough alone.

I am not about to dump the rest of the growler down the drain – this is Pumpking after all.  But I probably will not opt to do a refill.  I will let my wife, who is also a big fan, try it to see if it is just me or if the paint thinner thing is detectable by her more sensitive palate.  I’m thinking that she might have a similar reaction.

What I’m experiencing is probably the movement happening in craft beer right now to constantly come out with new recipes and blends.  Oak aged, sour beer, bourbon barrel selects, nitro widget double chocolates breakfast stouts.  What’s next,  lunch and dinner stouts.  Could it be that brewers are going a little over board to have the latest and greatest thing?  I like the old thing best: Great fresh beer.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Flights at Bailey's

My wife and I were looking to have a quick TGIF bite to eat after a long work week. We opted for Bailey’s Smokehouse in Blauvelt, NY because of the solid menu and the nice craft beer list. We were there back in October and I was surprised to see some of my favorite pumpkin ales in the house.  This time the beer list was even more impressive and they added flights of four 4 oz. drafts for $6. This gave us the opportunity to try many different craft beers without breaking the bank. 

Doreen started with bottle of Ithaca Apricot Wheat and I had a pint of Flying Dog Porter draft.  She found her beer a little too light, but my porter was rich, dark and satisfying.  We ordered the fried sampler consisting of potato skins, crab cake, pork rolls and mac and cheese egg rolls.  The crab cake was fresh and delicious with a spicy salsa-like topping.  The egg rolls were on the spicy side too but very filling.  The pork rolls looked a little over-done so I didn’t even make an attempt at them.  Besides, I needed to leave some room for the brews.

We each ordered a flight of four so we were able to taste the following 8 craft beers:
Ommegang BPA
Sixpoint Bengal Tiger IPA
Troegs Hop Amber Ale
Franziskaner Hefenweisen
21st Amendment Back in Black IPA
Goose Island Honker Ale
Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ sumpin’
Dogfish Head 60 min IPA

We tried them all and then each ordered a pint of our favorite to go along with Bailey’s specialty: thin crust pizza. Dor went with the Hefenweisen which is a German Weiss (wheat) beer and had the lowest alcohol by volume of the bunch at 5%. This style of beer looks cloudy due to the yeast not being filtered out. We both agreed it had a fruity nose and nice banana and cloves taste.  These are not ingredients used in the brewing; they are aromas given off by esters produced by the fermentation process.  It had a slightly soapy mouth feel which may also be due to the byproducts of fermentation. 

My favorite was the Back in Black IPA from 21st Amendment Brewing Co.  The brewery is named after the amendment to the Constitution that repealed Prohibition.  Apparently, 2 friends decided to start a brew pub in San Francisco that had the feel of one of the city’s 40 or so breweries that were in existence before alcohol was made illegal in 1920. Today, there are only 8 breweries to support double the population.   21st Amendments beers are named in honor of great Americans.  Black in Black pays tribute to Paul Revere’s famous ride.
This beer pours with the hue of used motor oil with a frothy brown head on top.  Both the nose and taste of this beer says toasted malt.  That sweet flavor was complemented nicely by a bitter finish donated by the hops.  It had the perfect bitter/sweet dichotomy of rich dark chocolate.  At 6.8% ABV, it is not too strong if you are looking to have more than one.  Unfortunately, I already had more than one.  So I finished my pizza and made a mental note to find this beer, which is made in cans, at my local bevy.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

When the weather gets cold, I can’t help but turn to darker beers to warm up the chilly nights.  So I went down to the “beer cellar”, which is really just a closet in my basement that has a lock on the door, and pulled out a milk stout.  This one is from Lancaster Brewing Co. and it’s the first beer I’ve had from this brewery.  I would figure a brewery in Lancaster would make some reference to the Amish and they do in their Four Grain Pale Ale.  Their web site professes to “pay respect to the old traditions” in their brewing style. Let see how their Milk Stout holds up to scrutiny:

It pours almost black out of the bottle.  There is virtually no head and subsequently, no lacing.   I can pick up a slight coffee aroma as I wave the glass beneath my nose.  The first sip feels like a slightly flat Coke swirling around my mouth.  It has a strong coffee flavor with a bitter finish coming through loud and clear. 

This beer is not nearly as creamy as other milk stouts I have had.  Milk stouts get their sweetness from the lactose, or milk sugar, which is unfermentible by the yeast.  As a result, these stouts are much sweeter than your typical bitter stouts like Guinness.   Unfortunately, I didn’t taste the sugary, sweetness I was expecting and am not crazy about this beer.  The Lancaster is not terrible, it just pales in comparison to some others that I’ve tried like Left Hand’s Milk Stout.  Now there’s a creamy, satisfying stout.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Beers of Japan

It’s a cold crisp day and the kids and I are home from school for MLK Day.  I offer to buy lunch and they are all over going out for sushi, like we usually do when I’m buying.  We go to our local Japanese place called U Me Sushi and share several different rolls including Teka Maki (Tuna), Unagi (Eel), Alaskan (Salmon) and Californian, which is mostly avocado and salmon roe (eggs). 

I take the opportunity to try a couple of Japanese beers.  My first is Sapporo Premium which is like the Budweiser of Japan. It comes out of the bottle a yellow/gold and has a thin head like most American Lagers.  I can pick up a slight hop smell which becomes a pleasant floral taste upon first sipping it.  It is very light and drinkable with a bit of bitter after taste. 

Next, I order an Asahi which would be the Miller of Japan.  The pour and carbonation look identical to the Sapporo along with the hoppy nose.  The taste and even the lacing up the glass are similar.  So much so, that I feel I could be drinking another Sapporo.  The only difference I can detect is the slightly dryer finish on the Asahi.  Both beers go very well with the fresh fish and I declare lunch a success. 

It turns out that the similarity between these beers is not a coincidence: they have a connection.  The Sapporo brewery was opened in 1886 and combined with Asahi at the turn of the century.  The two were produced under the same parent company until the 1950’s when they were split off. They have remained separate since but, like the Macro beers of the U.S., they seem to be trying to appeal to the masses.
After lunch my son, who just got his license (lucky me), drives me to my local beverage center where I heard they have a beer aged in sake barrels.  This seems like a good day to pick one up and compare it to the Budweiser and Miller of japan.  Hitachino XH (Extra High) has an 8% ABV and is considered a Belgian Strong Ale.  It pours an auburn color with a thin tan head.  I leave the residue behind in the bottle because I don’t want to get a surprise from drinking all that yeast as I have in the past.  The residue at the bottom of the bottle smells a little funky.   I notice that the back of the label has some letters and numbers stamped on it: XH: 11: 09.  I hope this doesn’t mean that it’s good until Nov 2009.  I’ve been burned by expiredbeer as well.

The beer in my glass has a smell of fresh bread.  First sip: malty and smooth.  No noticeable sake taste.  More a slight whiskey after taste.  Now, after I sit a moment, a little tinge of sake hits me.  It makes for a pleasing combination.  Overall, my evaluation is: very smooth and very enjoyable.  It may have a relatively high ABV, but I don’t feel it.  The malt and sake tastes blend well as I sit back in my chair and let the sensations work on my tongue and the back of my throat.

Not to be outdone by the lagers, Hitachino has been produced at the Kiuchi Brewery in Naka, Japan since 1823.  They also brew sake and the popular shochu, which is a stronger version of sake used in mixed drinks.  The company’s web site features a dancing owl that first distracts, then annoys you, while you wait for the pages to load. 

What a different experience Hiachino is from the Japanese lagers I had earlier with lunch.  Whereas the lagers went down so quickly, this beer demands a slow, thoughtful consumption.  At $5.79 per 12 oz. bottle, it is also more economical to drink this beer slowly.  If you sit and contemplate the complexity of this Extra High beer, you will get many more smiles per gallon. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Victory - Otto Ale

My wife received this bottle as a holiday gift at work so we popped it open over dinner the other night.  I have never tried any craft beers from Victory Brewing Co. , though I have heard good things about this Pennsylvania brewer.  The bottle doesn't even indicate what style of beer this is. So I'm going into this review with no knowledge of this beer except that it has one of the coolest labels I've seen.   
My wife prepares a meal of chicken marsala and I remove the cork from the 750 ml bottle.  It pours a reddish brown with a nice two fingers of foam.  The smell is of yeast like fresh bread.  First sip:  Smoky malt taste like a porter or brown ale.  After visiting Victory's web site, I find out that this is actually a Belgian style smoked malt, double ale.  It’s the maltiness that lingers at the back of my mouth and makes me want to follow it up with another sip. Now I detect a nice little bitter bite.  The 8.1% ABV is not over the top; it's more the smokiness than the alcohol I come away with.
This complex, smoky-bitter flavor is achieved by the use of smoked, Munich and Belgian malt, German hops and Trappist yeast.  This beer gets its European flavor from its ingredients and from co-owners Ron Barchet and Bill Covaleski who both apprenticed under German brewers.  Ron even studied at the Technical University of Munich at Weihenstephan.  The partners decided to start brewing in 1996 in Downingtown , PA just a short distance from where the two first met in elementary school.

The Otto Ale complements our dinner well and I am sad when all that's left is the foam laced up the side of the glass.  I feel like I've just finished a substantial  well-crafted, European beer.  It's nice to know that traditional, quality craft brewing is not only done across the Atlantic.  It can be found right across the state boarder in good old PA. 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Classic Pubs and Craft Beers of London

by Rich
If you’re planning a craft beer tour of London and you live in the tristate area, your best preparation is a trip to The Ship Inn in Milford, NJ.   The mild but tasty cask conditioned ales they serve there are similar to what you will experience in London. My explorations over there were rather limited, we only had a few days,  but I kept my eyes open for the pubs displaying CAMRA and Cask Marque logos . These 2 organizations are dedicated to what the British call "real ale."
My diligence was rewarded. On the top of my list was The Museum Tavern. It's been in the same location for more than 250 years. As a matter of fact it changed its name when the British Museum opened across the street in 1760 or so. According to reports Arthur Conan Doyle may have gotten inspiration for some Sherlock Holmes stories while sipping ale here. Karl Marx also frequented the place while working as a reporter in London. They served a cask conditioned "Old Peculier." This roasted malt ale was delicious. You may recall from the Ship Inn review that these ales are low in alcohol, about 4% or 5% abv, and they don't have a real heavy hop taste but they are flavorful and aromatic. Old Peculier is available in bottles on this side of the ocean.

We also sampled a made-in-London local brew while visiting our friends in Hampsted, a 45 minute ride from central London. The Flask, as the pub was called, had Sambrooks "Wandle" on tap and it was worth the work on the beer engine especially since I wasn't the one working it. The cask ales don't have a lot of carbonation so the ale has to be pumped up by hand using that engine.
Close to our hotel we visited The Drayton Arms and tried some "Bishops Tipple" and some "Oxford Gold." Once again, we had no complaints. The CAMRA and Cash Marque websites offer lots of information so anyone planning a trip can find some tips before they leave.  Cheers!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Yard House in Yonkers

The newest craft beer bar in the tristate area is the Yard House in Yonkers, NY.  It opened this past fall and has the best selection of foreign and microbrews that I have seen.  It is in the Ridge Hill Mall right off the NY State Thruway (Rt 87).  The Yard House is opening in the Palisades Mall soon, but more on that later. 
Before I visited, I looked at the directions quickly and saw that it was off the Stew Leonard’s exit so I assumed it was near the big super market.  Wrong.  You have to take a service road that runs along 87 for a few hundred yards and then cross over the highway to the mall entrance.  There was no sign indicating its location amongst the various clothing stores so it took a little searching to find.  It is right under Dick’s Sporting Goods so just follows those signs and you’ll find it.

My brother, Joe, and I went there on a week night and it was packed.  Every table was occupied and the bar was 2 persons deep in most places.  The place reminded me of a TGI Fridays with a huge circular bar in the middle.  On each side of the bar, seven silver pipes carrying refrigerated beer lines run along the ceiling and down to the line of taps.  The pipes are meant to keep beer in the lines cold so it doesn’t go stale.  We were lucky to grab a couple of chairs at the bar when a couple left.

There are 130 different beers to choose from, many of which I had not heard of.  They make it easy for you to try a bunch of different types by offering two different flights of six 4 oz. beers.  Joe and I split the American Flight consisting of:
Firestone House Honey Blond  (4.7 % Abv)

Harpoon UFO White Ale (4.8)
House Amber (5.0)
Alexander Keith’s Brown Ale (5.4)
Lagunitas IPA (6)
Southern Tier Double IPA (8.2)

I was impressed by the House Honey which is made for them, along with their other house brews, by Firestone Walker.  It is made with real honey and is sweet from start to finish.  Alexander Keith’s brown ale was also very good.  It is made by the oldest brewery in North America which is found in Halifax, Nova Scotia. This brown is not as malty as some I have had but is very smooth and drinkable. 
For dinner, I ordered a margarita pizza which was delicious thanks to the fresh mozzarella cheese and basil.  To accompany our meal, we had the Belgian sampler consisting of:

Ommegang Hennepin (7.7%  Abv)
Affelgium House Ale  (8)

House Belgian Triple (9)

Trois Pistoles Belgian Strong Ale (9)

Golden Draak (10.5)

St Louis Frambois ( 4.5)
Our bartender, Brian, who previously ran The Bronx Ale House took us through the offerings.  Generally, this sequence took us from less to more alcohol except for the frambois which a sweet after dinner beer.  I really enjoyed the taste of the Draak though I thought it would be a little too strong if I drank a whole pint.  My favorite Belgian was actually made in America in Cooperstown, NY .  Ommegang makes great Belgium style beers and this saison ale is one of my favorites.  It has a even blend of spice and bitterness and its ABV is not going to knock you out if you have more than one.  
I also enjoyed the frambois so much that I ordered a Youngberry Chocolate for dessert.  This is a blend of the raspberry frambois and Young’s Chocolate Stout which is, needless to say, heedonistic after trying 12 different beers with dinner.  But you have to always keep in mind that I’m doing this so that you, my reader, can experience as much of the beer world as possible.  So I’m actually drinking for “more than one” when I enter an establishment like this.  Luckily, the samples were small and my brother was driving so no damage was done.

Yard House is a chain and I’ve heard that one is opening on my side of the Hudson in the Palisades Mall this summer.  I can’t wait because its 10 minutes from home and there is convienient bus service to the mall from anywhere in Rockland.  I think that this summer there will be some damage done when Yard House comes to town. . . .

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Chimay - Red, Yellow or Blue?

Over the holidays, I was able to try all three “colors” of Belgium’s Chimay Beer at one sitting and compare them to determine my favorite.   They came as a part of a holiday gift pack that included three 12oz. bottles and a matching glass.  I tasted all three of Chimay’s offerings at the Atlantic City Beer Festival, but I had so many other great craft beers that day, it was hard to remember exactly which was which.  This time I was able to take my time and contemplate the characteristics of each one.

This beer has been produced in the southern town of Chimay at Scourmont Abbey since 1862. It is one of only six Trappist breweries in Belgium, and has to meet certain criteria to carry the Trappist label.  In order to get this unique designation, it's not enough for the beer to be brewed within a monastery, it has to be run by Trappist monks.  A part of the profit from the sales of their beer must go toward charitable causes.  I feel better knowing that the proceeds from my purchase are benefitting rural Belgian villages.

I started with the Rouge which is the first beer Chimay made at its inception.  It is the “lightest”, alcohol wise, at 7 % ABV.  It is not really light, but for these potent Belgians it is the baby of the bunch.  This beer came out of the bottle a reddish, copper color with lots of carbonation but little head.  It smells spicy like coriander, which is found in many Belgian beers.  First sip:  The spiciness does not come through in the taste.   It does not have a ton of flavor but it doesn’t suck either.  A nice start.
The Chimay Doree (8% Alc.) pours a golden color to match its label with a big frothy head of foam.  It lacks some of the spicy aroma of the Red.  But it has a fruity taste with enough carbonation to give it a refreshing finish.

The Bleue Grande Reserve fills the glass a dark brown topped by a tan head.  Malty sweetness greets my nose as I bend to take a whiff.  The highest in alcohol at 9%, this beer goes down smooth with a slight toffee finish.  It is my favorite of the three.  I’m so taken with this Blue that I pick up a 750ml bottle a few days later to share with my wife over dinner.   

What is your favorite Chimay? Drop us a comment and let us know.  Cheers!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Craft Beer with some "local personality"

by Joe

I am quickly coming to terms with the fact that when it comes to the color, smell and taste of a Craft Beer I will never have the refined senses possessed by some of the other contributors to this blog.

 But that doesn’t really bother me for I am starting to develop a different sense for Craft Beer. I’m starting to get the sense for the  “local personality” of Craft beer.

 Let me explain. Since I have started to expand my interest in Craft Beer, I have made it a point to when ever possible, sample a beer from the locale where I find myself. Since I have been traveling a bit lately, this has afforded me the opportunity to taste some decent offerings in the cities I visit.

 For example, in my last post on this site, I mentioned two beers I discovered during a trip to the California winecountry. One was from the Silverado Brewing Company in Napa and the other, Lagunitas IPA, is brewed in Sonoma County. Both were very enjoyable.

 While I was delayed at the Akron Airport a couple of months ago, I had a pint of a popular pale ale from the Great Lakes Brewing Company in Cleveland. Yet another very good choice.
On a recent trip to Chicago, I asked the bar tender at a trendy hotel to recommend a local craft brew. He recommended Gumball Head from Three Floyds. It turns out its not quite a product of Chicago, but rather brewed in Indiana. I guess that's close enough. Gumball head may not have been from the neighborhood but I will tell you it was exceptional. And the “Beer Advocate” would agree scoring it at 94 points. Here is what BA has to say:

 28 IBUs - An American Wheat Ale, Gumball head is named in honor of the underground comic book cat created by Rob Syers. Initially a seasonal summer beer, now brewed year round due to demand. This beer helped redefine American Wheat Beers. Brewed with Amarillo Hops and a generous portion of American red wheat, Gumball head has a complex hop aroma with notes of grapefruit, lemon zest, marmalade and peach. These flavors combined with low bitterness make Gumball head a refreshing American Wheat Beer that doesn’t suck.

 Also this has one of the coolest labels that I have come across.

 Unfortunately when I was in the Miami Airport two weeks ago they didn’t offer any local selections just the old standards. So nothing to report from South Beach, maybe next time.

 What causes me to write now as opposed to back when I first experienced these brews.
Well, oddly enough this evening I found myself in my basement on cat litter box duty. I know, that's not an image you need. The basement is where the refrigerator with all the beers sits. In an effort to make my task more manageable I opened ”Mild Winter” from Goose Island, which actually is a Chicago Brewery.  Turned out to be a good choice for litter box duty. Great light brown coloring with a smooth taste, just don’t ask me what the taste actually is.

 Here is what the Brewer has to say:

 “Toffee brown, medium-bodied, with a creamy head and an aroma of raisins and freshly baked dark bread. Mild Winter’s rich caramel malt and spicy rye flavors are sure to take the bite out of whatever Old Man Winter brews up for you this year.”

 Incidentally, another beer I tried out in Chicago was Green line. It was on tap and as with the others quite enjoyable. Well wouldn’t you know it that while researching Mild Winter, I discovered that Green line is a product of Goose Island? What are the odds?

 OK, where I am getting to with all this is that Craft beer for me is a way to experience the local personality of a particular place and people.  Whether it be the beer itself, the label or even the physical plant and how the brewer promotes oneself. It truly allows for a real local expression. This is what I have discovered I enjoy about this new interest.

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Beers of Eataly

On the corner of Broadway and 23rd street, just a short walk away from Penn Station, is a huge indoor market where you can find NYC’s best Italian food and drink under one roof.  There are merchants selling cheeses, gelato, vegetables, wines, beers and much more. It’s all a little overwhelming.  At least, that’s how I felt when Doreen and I first walked in.  It felt a little like a crowded department store where the ailes are purposely kept narrow so customers keep bumping into products they might want to buy. 

Along with all the retail shops, there are six restaurants to choose from. The only problem is finding a seat during lunch time.  Most had hour long waits for a table, but we were lucky enough to wander into a large open Piazza with standing tables.  As we walked in, a couple was just vacating their spot so we sidled right in their place.  A waiter materialized in seconds and minutes later we were enjoying our first Eatalian drinks. 
Doreen ordered a fine Pinot Noir and I started with a Birra Moretti La Rossa (7.2 % Alc.).  Moretti has been brewed in the northern Italian town of Udine for more than 150 years.  Made with water that flows from the nearby Austrian Alps, these beers have have won many awards including a gold and silver medal at the 2006 World Beer Cup.  My first choice was also a real winner.  La Rossa’s sweet caramel smell and malty taste combined wonderfully with our cheese plate. We were also served fresh bread with various dips including a honey and amaretto dip that sent my sweet tooth to Nirvana. 

We walked the market some more amazed at the selection of food and drink. After a couple tries, we found an eatery that had seats at the bar and we jumped at them.   Manza Ristorante specializes in local meats and fresh pastas. As an appetizer, we ordered mozzarella cheese with almonds, brown butter and guanciale, which is an Italian bacon made from the pig’s cheek.  The cheese was smooth and creamy and so delicious that we bought the ingredients on our way out and Doreen made the dish a few days later.
On our waiter/bartender’s recommendation, Doreen had a G. Menanrea e figli.  This amber lager was also a medal winner at the World Championships in 2002.  She found it light and refreshing with plenty of carbonation.  I had an Strada s. Felice Grando Plato  ( 8% Alc.) brewed in the town with the happy-sounding name of Chieri, Italy.   This amber ale is brewed with chestnuts grown in the Piedmont region and tastes of toffee and caramel.  Doreen chose the riggioli with duck ragu and foie gras, which is made from the “fat liver” of the duck.  I dined on spaghetti alla chiterra with lobster, tomato and basil.  Both dishes were excellent in their own way.
After our meal we walked the market and found a sign that said Birreria.  Now I don’t speak the language but I translated this to mean “beer area”.  Actually, it means brew pub or brewery. Underneath the sign, were some of the finest beers from Italy and what I think is one of the best American Breweries, Dogfish Head. Sam Calagione from DFH and Teo Musso of Baladin and Lurisia Breweries helped with the selection. 
They also helped develop the Birreria on the 14th floor.  By this hour the pub was mobbed and we were just able to grab a corner of the bar and one of the few DFH beers I haven’t had yet, Immort Ale.   At 11% alcohol it was way too strong for a post-meal beer, but at least I can add it to my list.
The bar crowd was friendly and the place apparently has an outdoor sitting area that I would have liked to see.  We were feeling a little cramped so we made our way back to the elevator and down to street level to purchase some of the treats we experienced today. 

So if you are looking for a taste of Italy but can’t afford to travel there, just jump on a train and in a flash you can be experiencing great Eatalian Cuisine.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Birth of a Grand Cru

by Brian

I can't think of a better way to spend a Holiday afternoon than watching football and bottling our Father & Son Grand Cru. In 4 weeks we'll be putting our Grand Cru up against some of the finest Grand Cru's in the world in a HEAD-TO-HEAD, WINNER-TAKE-ALL, NO-HOLDS-BARRED blind taste test that will decide the fate of mankind.

OK, maybe not the fate of mankind, but still it's a big deal to us. Let's meet the competition:


Brewed once a year in small batches for limited vintage release.


A dark ale with rich malts and fermented with Belgian & American Yeasts


They consider this to be a Flemish Red Brown Ale