HBW and Poured in PA

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April 21 – 29, 2017

Once again as we approach late April, the return of Harrisburg Beer Week is coming upon us. This year marks the third iteration of the yearly celebration of craft beer in the Central PA area. As such, now provides a great opportunity to assess the current standing of craft beer in the (717) area code.

But first, within the Commonwealth, the past year has brought at least one challenge to local brewers in their changing relationship distributors due to legislation. Across the Nation, the total number of breweries has ballooned from 5,000 just a year ago to 5,300. This rapid expansion has been tempered by a very slight downturn in consumption across the industry. The number of guests at the table grew but the size of the pie remained the same.

Locally paints a far rosier picture. We have seen an impressive number of breweries open. There are more choices for local beer drinkers than ever before and the acceleration keeps going.

Since the last HBW, we have seen Collusion Tap Works, The Vegetable Hunter, Ever Grain, Tattered Flag, Desperate Times, Millworks, and Boneshire open their doors. We have seen the expansion of Appalachian Brewing Company and watched Troegs open its new and absolutely gorgeous Splinter Cellar. There are more bars and restaurants that are featuring local brewers; often in unique and interesting ways beyond just a tap handle. Finally, we saw a massive 12 brewer collaboration at Pizza Boy Brewing Co. that put out an outstanding beer and showcased the comradery here locally.

Looking at all of this, Harrisburg Beer Week is a great time to celebrate this now mature community within the Central PA area.

Over the course of nine days, craft beer devotees will be visiting multiple breweries, bars, and restaurants to sample unique brews or raising a pint of their favorite stalwart. We will hunt down rare firkins, tip back pints of what will be an eminently quaffable new (717) Collaboration Lager, and discuss or debate the virtues of this beer or that ale. All while raising a ton of money for a great cause, the Harrisburg River Rescue.

Much like brewers work hard to keep their lineups fresh, the Harrisburg Beer Week crew have worked hard to keep the three-year-old venture fresh with new gear and some new events or “old” events in new places. The Home Brewers Competition has been moved to the Broad Street Market in Midtown. While the ballpark was a fun and an interesting location, moving to the Market will inevitably create a more “Harrisburg” vibe. There are more events than ever, at more locations than ever. They even have a mini golf outing.

Just like craft beer in Central PA and Harrisburg Beer Week have grown, so has the craft industry throughout Pennsylvania. This provides an opportunity to tell a compelling story.

A compelling story is what GK Visual brought us in their documentary Brewed in the ‘Burg. As craft beer has expanded within the area so has their vision as they take on Poured in PA; a documentary meant to highlight craft beer throughout Pennsylvania. Making a project of this size requires money, a lot of it. That is why they have turned to crowd funding. But backing this project comes with perks; some really great ones. In fact, I have backed this project with my own money and if you love PA craft beer you should back it too.

It doesn’t take much to help out the Harrisburg River Rescue or Poured in PA. Both projects are about doing something positive around something we care about, great beer.

Post Script:

If I missed a brewery that opened since April of 2016, I am sorry but I think I caught everyone. If I missed one, let me know in the comments and I will edit accordingly.

I will have a list of my “Can’t Miss Events” next week so check back.

The new label for (717) Collaboration is amazing. It is so good. I really like it.

Also, I am happy to say that Friend of the Show, Tierney Pomone will be appearing on It’s Friday Somewhere this week to discuss all things Harrisburg Beer Week.

Finally, I apologize for the lack of posts here as of late. Between launching the new podcast and writing for October now I just have not had the chance to write much for my own blog. I hope to change that soon and expect that Bearcat on Beer will now be almost entirely my thoughts on what is happening locally.

Cheers!

Ep. 20: The Operation Shutdown Shutdown

In Episode 20, the final episode (more on that below), I am joined by friends of the show Ed Grohl and Easy Pretzel (Dave).

In this episode, Ed works really hard not to say awesome four-thousand times, we discuss if Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall is greater than Thriller, Harrisburg Beer Week’s Little Big Beer Fest, Dave considers barnstorming Hunapuh Day in Tampa, and Bearcat waxes philosophic about the ephemeral nature of short lived beers and sourcing the local culture into beer.

What were we drinking:

Dave: Saison Dupont, Bourbon County Bourbon Stout (2016) by Goose Island Beer Company
Ed: Tired Hands + Omnipollo Pineapple Milkshake, Florida Ave IPA, Mega Mix IPA
Bearcat: It’s Complicated Being a Wizard by Burlington Beer Co., HopSlam Bell’s Brewing and Nugget Nectar by Troegs Independent Brewing

We held a bottle share and we drank a ton of great beers:

Who’s on First — J. Wakefield Brewing
Phantom Chair — Fremont Brewing
Native Two — Tree House Brewing Co.
I See the Vision (Prickly Pear & Passion Fruit) — Burlington Beer Company
BuiceJox 2.0 — Sole Artisan Ales
Beatitude Passion Fruit Tart Saison — Council Brewing Company
Interlude (2015) and Pettygrove’s Chance — Allagash Brewing Company
Saison Premiere — de Garde Brewing
Hell Broth — Off Color Brewing
Kaleidoscope — Birra Toccalmatto
Mad Elf (2003) — Troegs Independent Brewing
Cave-Aged Ommegang Abbey Ale (2008) — Brewery Ommegang
Parageusia2 — Tired Hands Brewing Company
Grand Cru (2014) — AleSmith Brewing Company
Thirtieth Anniversary Grand Cru (2010) — Sierra Nevada Brewing Company
Twilight of The Idols — Hill Farmstead Brewery
Brush & Barrel Series Culmination — Long Trail Brewing Company
Ola Dubh 1991: Vintage Limited Edition Series — Harviestoun Brewery
Collaboration No. 6 — Barrel-Aged Blend — Boulevard Brewing Co.
Last Buffalo in the Park — Funky Buddha Brewery
Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout (2014) — Cigar City Brewing
Bourbon Barrel Cru (2016) — Hardywood Park Craft Brewery

Special thanks to Joel, Chelsie and Derek, Tierney, Nicole and Tony, Darryl for coming and sharing some fantastic beers. Special thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Easy Pretzel for hosting.

Link Dump:

Hunahpu Day Cigar City
#DrinkItNow
Dixie Blackened Voodoo Lager
Harrisburg Beer Week
Little Big Beer Fest (Buy your tickets now! This will sell out.)
Untappd 3.0
Derek Bell and The Operation Shutdown
October Beer
Brew Gentlemen’s Diversity
Pittsburgh Beer Fest
Voodoo Brewing — Homestead
East End Brewing Co.

Be sure to stick around for the After Show where we will be discussing: the the shutdown of Operation Shutdown, diversity in location for breweries leading to diversity of employees and customers, and our impending launch of It’s Friday Somewhere which we are very excited for and hope you follow us there.

Finally, a serious and heartfelt thank you to everyone that ever came on the show or helped me with the recording. Special thank you to Ffej Herb, Tierney of Stouts & Stilettos, Sara Bozich, Fetish Brewing, Jeff Kupko, Chelsie and Derek, Theo Armstrong, Al Kominski and Bryan D. Roth.

Also… Thank you for listening. So many of our listeners have taken the time to not only listen but to share with others and provide feedback. I cannot tell you how much this is appreciated.

Ed, Dave and I are really excited for the new podcast and we hope you are too. We are going to be doing some great new stuff and we think you will really like it.

Thank you again to everyone that listened. Please join us as we start this new podcast in the coming weeks.

Cheers!

Ep. 19: First Cut Redux

In Episode 19 of the Operation Shutdown, I welcome back friends of the show Ed Grohl and  and Easy Pretzel. We discussed: Troegs Independent Brewing’s First Cut, some recent travels, Easy Pretzel’s hated of unnecessary tipping, Pergo flooring, and ironing, Bearcat goes an episode without saying hoi polloi or juxtaposition, and Ed recycles some old jokes.

A disclosure a quick note:  Troegs was kind enough to send us each a bottle of First Cut Mango IPA in advance of its recent release so that we could discuss it on this podcast. Special thanks to them.

first-cut-12oz-bottle

What We Were Drinking:
Easy Pretzel: First Cut by Troegs Independent Brewing Company, Phantom Chair by Fremont Brewing Company
Ed: First Cut, Stern Line Stout by 3 Daughters Brewing Company
Bearcat: First Cut, Conehead by Zero Gravity Craft Brewing

Link Dump:
Scratch #261 Mango IPA
Scratch #263 Mango IPA #2
Scratch #266 Mango IPA #3
Scratch #270 Mango IPA #4
Scratch #58 Triple Mango IPA
Scratch #98 Triple Mango IPA #2
Cultivator by Troegs Independent Brewing Company
Untappd 3.0
Mago Tago by Tired Hands and its 92 on BeerAdvocate.com (WTF?)
North Country Brewing Company
Brew Gentlemen
Spoonwood Brewing Company
Mindful Brewing
Voodoo Brewery
Dancing Gnome Brewery
3 Daughters’ Bimini Twist and their Ratebeer 34
Steel Reserve High Gravity and their Ratebeer 8
Cycle Brewing
Hunahpu Day at Cigar City
ManBearPig by Voodoo Brewing
Roundabout Brewery
Piggly Wiggly
Publix
Voodoo Employee Owned
Matthew Allyn
Allyn Consulting Services
Sole Artisan Ales  and Sole’s Consulting Arm — Brew Nerds
Susquehanna Brewing Company
Bryan D. Roth‘s There is No Bubble for October
Monkish Brewing Co.
Spring House Brewing Company
3 Floyds Dark Lord
Levante Brewing Company

Be sure to stick around for the After Show where: Dave celebrates, Ed mourns, Bearcat quietly wonders why life is so unfair, and you can learn about Ric Flair’s really expensive shoes.

You can listen by clicking above or find The Operation Shutdown on iTunes. If you use iTunes, please consider subscribing. If you enjoyed this podcast, please consider leaving a review and sharing it with a friend.

Cheers!

Shakespeare in Beer

Ms. Tierney Pomone from Stouts & Stilettos reached out to me and offered the opportunity to do a beer review together. What you see here is our first She Said/He Said Beer Review. We took a stab at Kettleface by Columbia Kettle Works and St. Boniface Brewing Co. 

Be sure to follow Tierney on twitter and bookmark her very nice website.

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Tierney, Kettleface and Shakespeare

Tierney: So, not every day is perfect, and most days are nowhere close to it. This is sometimes why we find ourselves drinking. While certainly not the best coping mechanism, there’s truly an art to taking the edge off a bit while distracting yourself with ‘The People of Happy Hour’ and chatting with your local bartender.

Today I took advantage of this solace directly across the street at the Midtown Tavern. I enjoyed a few Nugget Nectars, a few chicken wings, and the company of at first no one at all, then a good friend, then once again my own solitude.

Tonight was the perfect moment to dive into Kettleface. I’m feeling perfectly honest and also hopeful that once I crack this can I’ll continue to find comfort in a delicious brew.

Since it’s in a can, and called Kettleface, I obviously must drink it direct from the can to my face right? Well, I want to see its color and get a bit of the aroma, so I did pour a small amount into a small snifter for judgment. It’s a deep amber color, and the aroma is very bready, almost biscuity.

Okay, maybe the Nugget is interfering. I just went and drank some water, grabbed a few carrots from the fridge, and queued up some Netflix. Ah Shakespeare in Love, an old favorite. Let’s enjoy this beer with Joseph Fiennes on the tv.

So, I dig into Kettleface, and it was not what I expected. The can tells me it’s a double dry-hopped Imperial Red Ale. Sweet, can’t wait to dig into this hopped up red! Okay wait, at first taste that’s not what’s happening. It’s super grainy. Hang on, more water, more carrots, let’s watch more movie and come back.

Wait wait wait. Untappd says this is 9.2% ABV? My can doesn’t say that! Pretty sure you have to put that somewhere on the label, but okay, here we go. So some of the hops are coming through now, maybe I was just expecting the wrong hop flavor? It says there are Simcoe and Centennial – the less aggressive flavor makes more sense now. Going into a beer blind will give you the most honest outcome, and I’m glad I knew next to nothing about this before opening.

I watched a little more movie and waited for it to warm, hoping this would make it easier to decipher the flavors. 20 minutes into the movie, 20 minutes into this beer. The hops are coming forward, but not in a way I wanted them too. This beer is getting bitter now, but still paired with that grainy flavor I just can’t shake. I don’t know what to do, I don’t really like it. I really want to like it, I don’t want to give up!

“Stage love will never be true love” alas they are right, as I don’t love this beer, and don’t want to pretend that I do. I don’t want to drink the rest. It’s so bitter yet grainy. It’s everything I don’t love in a beer. Parting is such sweet sorrow dear Kettleface, but you were fated for someone else…

Bearcat:

/cracks open Kettleface

//opens email

 ///sips

Hmmm… “The Lady doth protest too much” or not enough. I have known you long enough to know that you don’t like it. Extra points to you for “an honest tale speeds best, being plainly told.” Yet I will ask you to drink it again and see if you remain unimpressed.

I very much like this beer but my biases are all on display here. Columbia Kettle Works is as close to a neighborhood brewery as I am ever going to get. I like their beers and mostly I cheer them on as they make slow steady improvements and growth. So T and dear reader, know that “love is blind, and lovers cannot see”.

I think if you put Nugget Nectar and Kettleface side-by-side you are going to see disappointment as they are in some ways similar but the Nugget Nectar is far more devoted to the hop. Kettleface is not a hop bomb; something to which we have come accustomed.

I like the bitterness as it warms slightly. I think it helps to broaden the flavor profile but it can be off-putting as the beer reaches room temperature. Some beers really open up as they reach this state and improve. Kettleface is best served cool or cold and in that sense, the pounder may do it some disservice.

As You Like It straight from the can, I do think you may have cut off some of the aromas and some nuance from the volatile elements. I love drinking beers from the can but in the glass, this beer was quaffable and did not linger. For me… when it comes to this beer, “I like this place and willingly could waste my time in it” and maybe “my love’s more richer than my tongue.”

I do think this is a great beer but my biases are all out there.  “Above all; To thine own self be true…” this beer may not be for you.

Yes, it is a bit bitter but I will leave you with one last Shakespeare quote: “The course of true love never did run smooth”.

Ep. 18: I Need to Spend More Time on the Internet

In Episode 18 of the Operation Shutdown, I welcome back friend of the show Ed Grohl and  we are joined by special guest Theo Armstrong, owner/brewer of ZerØday Brewing Company. We discussed: Lyrical Gangster, Theo’s most ambitious beer to date, the difficulty and the joy of opening a brewery, the clear beer vs. hazy beer ,and Theo’s lack of time on the Internet.

A disclosure a quick note:  Theo was kind enough to provide me with a bottle of Lyrical Gangster in advance of the podcast. Lyrical Gangster is available at ZerØday Brewing Company on Saturday, January 21st beginning at 1:00 pm. It is a great beer and you should definitely run out to get one of these very limited bottles.


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You can listen by clicking the bar immediately below or by subscribing on iTunes.

What we were drinking:

Rolling Rock
Kettleface by Columbia Kettle Works and St. Boniface Craft Brewing Co.
Lyrical Gangster by ZerØday Brewing Company

Link Dump:

Pacific Gem Hops
HACC Brewing Science Certificate
Brandalynn Armstrong (Owner, ZerØday)
Men’s Health Top 20 Beers of Summer Mango Hab
Rich Hauck (Designer of the label above.)
The Burg
The Bandit
Hal Needham
Millworks
Ever Grain Brewing Company
Harrisburg Beer Week

Be sure to stick around for the After Show.

You can listen by clicking above or find The Operation Shutdown on iTunes. If you use iTunes, please consider subscribing. If you enjoyed this podcast, please consider leaving a review and sharing it with a friend.

Cheers!

Ep. 17: Turf Wars and Vacuum Reviews

In Episode 17 of the Operation Shutdown, I welcome back friends of the show Easy Pretzel, and Ed Grohl. We discussed: waiting in the cold for a four-pack, some recent stories about the coming turf war in craft beer, a few breweries that are closing or are for sale, and Ed gives our listeners a vacuum recommendation.

Operation Shutdown cover art 3

You can listen by clicking the bar immediately below or by subscribing on iTunes.

What we were drinking:

Ed: Pork Chop Sandwiches by Voodoo Brewing
Dave: Fruit Infused Water by Capital Region Water Company and Costco
Bearcat: Kettleface by St. Boniface Brewing Co. and Columbia Kettle Works, Voodoo Ranger Imperial IPA by New Belgium

Follow up: A quick update from Ep. 16 regarding Tattered Flag Brewing Middletown and Troegs Independent Brewing.

Link Dump:
Logging Camp (Maple IPA) by Columbia Kettle Works
Pork Chop Sandwiches!
The Coming Turf War in Craft Beer
Six Breweries for Sale or Closing in Oregon
Westvleteren XII (Westy XII)
Delirium
Delirium Cafe
Is the Pittsburgh craft beer market tapped out?
Dancing Gnome Brewery
Mindful Brewing Company
11th Hour Brewing Co.
Brew Gentlemen of Braddock and their “Year of No.”
Millworks, Harrisburg
Ever Grain Brewing Co.
Stone Double Bastard Bigger Longer Uncut (Scotch Barrel Aged Strong Ale)
Untappd Digital Boards in Bars
NTN Trivia
LegenDairy Episode of Operation Shutdown
Boneshire Brew Works
Goose Island Bourbon County Proprietors (2014)
Ed’s New Vacuum — Bissel ClearView Pet Vacuum
Garage Racer IPA by Rubber Soul Brewing Co.
DINKs
Wonderlic Test
Shower Beer
Sprint Football
Franklin Pierce (NOT Easy Pretzel’s favorite President)
Sapp/Clifton Hit Ed Note: For the record Sapp was a dirty player.

Be sure to stick around for the After Show.

You can listen by clicking above or find The Operation Shutdown on iTunes. If you use iTunes, please consider subscribing. If you enjoyed this podcast, please consider leaving a review and sharing it with a friend.

Cheers!

Ep. 16 Beer in Review

In Episode 16 of the Operation Shutdown, I welcome back friends of the show Easy Pretzel, and Ed Grohl and we are joined by special guest Jeff Kupko. We discussed our favorite beers from 2016, Troegs Independent Brewing Company’s transparency, obligations to their customers, and their abysmal parking lot, as well as our thoughts after a shared happy hour at Tattered Flag in Middletown, and Ed’s love for everyone and everything.

Update: Tattered Flag reached out to me via direct message after listening to the episode and had the following to say: ” I just wanted to let you know that after I heard a complaint, that night, I did check it, I’ve actually been constantly checking that beer since before we put it on tap, nervous that the sourness was a sign of infection. I’ve had weekly tasting panels, and today after listening to you guys I had another professional brewer try it. We are not getting infection taste but your review and others on Untappd have my attention. It’s a 50/50 love hate in the brewery with that beer.”

Tony (the brewer) offered for us to come back and visit along with a sit down to discuss the beers. I have taken him up on the offer and invited him to appear on a future episode of the Operation Shutdown. I want to offer my appreciation for Tony reaching out and writing to me directly and to reiterate that our time TF was really great and if you go (and you should go) be sure to check out the double IPA.

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Easy Pretzel’s haul from an epic Smokey and the Bandit style run to the North East.

You can listen by clicking the bar immediately below or by subscribing on iTunes.

What We Were Drinking:

Resolute BBA – Brothers Craft Brewing
Rebel Raw – Boston Brewing
Pumpkinator Imperial Pumpkin Stout – Saint Arnold Brewing Company (Editor. Gross)
Java Cask – Victory Brewing Company
Kevin Kevin Sour IPA – The Veil Brewing Company
Recurrent – Wicked Weed Brewing Co.
Jai Alai IPA – Cigar City Brewing Co. 

Some of Our Favorite Beers From 2016:

It’s Complicated Being a Wizard DIPA – Burlington Beer Company
Helms Deep – Three Taverns Brewery
Juicy – Hill Farmstead
Even More Jesus – Evil Twin Brewing
Green – Tree House Brewing Company
Double Dry Hopped Galaxy Fort Point and Fort Point – Trillium
Gbop – New England Brewing
Coconut Porter – Broken Compass Brewing
Toof Toof Ache Ache – The Veil Brewing
Morning Wood – Funky Buddha Brewery
El Jefe – J. Wakefield Brewing
Liminal Moment – South County Brewing Company
Joose Juicy – Ever Grain Brewing Co.
Tickle Me Nelmo –  Mission Creek Brewing Co. (Editor: Extra points for 2nd coolest name ever.)
Excommunication – Max Lager’s
PNC – Firestone Walker
Oro Negro (BBA) – Jackie O’s
Barrel Aged Devil’s Abyss – Jagged Mountain Brewery
Nimble Giant and Barrel Aged Flying Mouflan – Troegs Independent Brewing
Tweak – Avery Brewing Co.
InTenSity BBA Barleywine – Hoppin Frog Brewery
Mexican Cake – Westbrook Brewing Co.
Simcoe Nerd – Sole Artisan Brewing
Lacto Calrissian Sour Double IPA – Pizza Boy Brewing Co. (Editor: Coolest Name Ever.)
Tropical Bitch – Flying Dog Brewery (Editor: Even thought its not good.)
Santé-16! – Brasserie Fantôme

Link Dump of Other Stuff We Discussed:

Frank Pepe’s Pizza
Sole’s Society
Bearcat’s Lacto Calrissian Post
Sour Murren River (Code Name Allison) Pizza Boy Brewing
LegenDairy IPA and Ep. 13 The LegenDairy Podcast
Michigan Maple Jesus – Evil Twin
Tattered Flag Brewery and Still Works
Beer Busters Podcast (Editor: It’s a very well done podcast.)
Steph and Richard Heffner from The Beer Busters Podcast
Tactical Nuclear Penguin – Brew Dog
Sink the Bismarck – Brew Dog
Tottenham Hotspur
Warwick Hotel (AKA – The Wick)

Be sure to stick around for the After Show where we discuss: Rogue One (No spoilers… I promise), The Pinstripe Bowl, Ed is drunk (again) and so am I.

You can listen by clicking above or find The Operation Shutdown on iTunes. If you use iTunes, please consider subscribing. If you enjoyed this podcast, please consider leaving a review and sharing it with a friend.

Cheers!

Post Script:

If the episode is a little choppy when you are listening I apologize. I had some technical difficulties during the recording but I think this episode turned out pretty well despite the issues. I am working on a solution to eliminate this in the future. (Podcasting is hard.)

A quick aside: The LegenDairy Milk Shake IPA by Pizza Boy Brewing discussed at length in Ep. 13 of the Podcast made a Top Ten list for 2016. Thank you to BreweriesInPA.com.

Thank you to everyone that appeared on the show over 2017: Fetish Brewing, Sara Bozich, Tierney Pomone, Ffej Herb, Chelsie Markel, Al Kominski, Bryan D. Roth, and Jeff Kupko.

But the biggest of appreciation is for you, the listeners. I can’t say how proud I am of the fact that the show grew from single digits to 200+ listeners in just 15 episodes. I am very thankful for each and everyone of you. I hope that you continue to listen through 2017 and beyond.

Also Easy, Ed, and I have some big plans in the works for the near and not so near future involving the podcast. I am very excited for what the future will bring and we can’t wait to share it all… when the time is right.

From Easy, Ed, and I we wish you health, happiness and good beers in the new year. Cheers!