The point of The Six-Pack Project is to identify six local beers that best represent our area’s craft beer offerings. Bryan lays down a couple rules:
1. This isn’t simply a “best of” list. The goal is to pick a collection of six beers that represents your state and/or state’s beer culture.
2. Beer must be made in your state, but “gypsy” brewers are acceptable, so long as that beer is brewed with an in-state brewery and sold in your state.
3. Any size bottle or can is acceptable to include.
4. Current seasonal offerings are fine, but try to keep selections to year-round brews as much as possible. No out-of-season brews preferred. Specialty or one-off brews are not allowed.
Be sure to stick around for the After Show. Special thanks to Tierney for coming on the 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.
In Ep. 6 of The Operation Shutdown I am joined by friend of the show Ed Grohl and very special guest Mike Simpson from Fetish Brewing Company. Their beer is brewed and locally distributed in Lancaster County, PA. As it states on their Facebook page Fetish is “Lancaster’s sexiest smallest brewery, we make each beer by hand for a small community of local beer drinkers & we’d like to make a few for you too.” I could not have said it any better.
We had a great discussion about, Fetish’s business model, Lancaster brews, brewery equipment, what does it mean to brew small and local, and the name of Ed’s cat.
Special thanks to Mike for taking time from his busy schedule to talk with us. There is tons of good stuff in here. You can find Fetish brewing on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. If it is not sold out already (and I both hope it is and that it is not as there were only 4 tickets left when we taped) check out Fetish on the Farm. I would love for an Operation Shutdown listenter to be the one to buy the last ticket.
Update — It just sold out this morning. So happy for them! If you missed, it go next year. I am going to be there.
Also, if you listen to the show and are going to Fetish on the Farm be sure to tell Mike and the guys you listen; that would be cool. You can tell them it was probably not the worst mistake they have ever made.
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.
Shit… You are doing this here too now, Bearcat? Yes.
This week we are trying an “After Show.” So keep listening after I hit stop.
Think of the Aftershow as the post script for a weird Bearcat on Beer blogpost but in audio form.
I think it works and plan on making this a regular part of the podcast. If you like it, leave a note below or let me know on Twitter. If you think it sucks, yell at Ed on twitter.
There are two pieces of technology in my lifetime that immediately after I saw them I understood everything would be different going forward.
The first was Napster.* The summer before Napster turned all of Gen X into pirates, my college strung all the dormitories with high speed internet lines in every room. It was uncanny.
I will never forget the awe of watching Heart of Glass download onto a computer in 30 seconds and then playing it out the booming speakers of my roommates DJ level audio equipment. The Internet officially grew up in that instant for me. Connectivity was real and it was profound.
At that moment everything changed. The music industry in this country can be broken into pre-Napster and post-Napster eras. Nothing was ever the same once music could be stolen.
For me, it started like it does for many people coming to this style, with Heady Topper. Here was a beer with moderately high ABV, hazy looks, solid mouth feel and juicy crushable flavors that makes it quaffable. It was unlike anything I had experienced before in an IPA.
This past weekend I saw Everclear in concert at The Vineyard at Hershey for their annual Merlot and Flash Gord’n release party. It was nostalgic listening to music from my high school years. Music that pumped from my beloved Sony Discman into my car stereo through a cassette tape adapter.
Everclear is both pre and post-Napster. Pre-Napster, the music industry was in balance. Music labels controlled the distribution, consumers paid too much, and artists got screwed by management. It worked…in a sense. After the Napster revolution the revenue plummeted, control by the labels went to hell, and artists still got screwed.
Is the NE IPA here to break up the West Coast IPA’s reign of dominance? Unlikely and only time will tell. Yet, the differences between the two styles of IPA is stark. A well done West Coast IPA is floral, bitter, and in its most extreme, punishing to the palate. NE IPAs are crushable, easy drinking with low bitterness and a subtle sweetness boosting the citrus of copious hops.
Everclear’s second album So Much For the Afterglow was their biggest success. Debuting after the MP3 file sharing revolution, the album’s title could have been a send off for the height of a once dominate industry. Unlike Napster crumbling the foundation of music, NE IPAs should be welcomed as a buttress to a growing movement.
Ryan DeLutis’ Hippy Ki-Yay! shows a brewer coming into his own after several years of plying his trade professionally. While not quite to the standard of the stalwarts of this burgeoning style it is very good nonetheless. In Hippy Ki-Yay!, the Citra and Mosaic hops come through but minus the punishing bitters of the west coast style variants while having that full bodied mouth feel. More importantly it is a way to try the NE IPA style minus the hundreds of miles and days stalking around New England bottle shops and breweries.
It is a very good beer that shows even the small local breweries can push a revolution.
*The second of the two pieces of tech was when Steve Jobs introduced the first iPhone. No one had any way of knowing that it would become the most successful piece of hardware in tech history. What I did understand immediately was the power of having the Internet in your pocket. I assumed it would change everything and I had to have one. I still love my iPhone(s) more than any other piece of tech I own. They are personal.
I am also a Apple Fanboy so take all that with the biases regularly associated with this disclaimer.
If you are a Gen Xer you really should watch Downloaded a 2013 documentary about the rise and fall of Napster. It is very, very good and a great run through the music of our youth. Also it has a bunch of Kurt Loder MTV news clips.
Listening to Everclear these days it is easy to assume that they have more daddy issues than can be found on a porn set.
The first time I had Blind Pig down at Monk’s Cafe in 2012 it was easy to see how this beer sparked the West Coast IPA. Years later I would get to enjoy Russian Rivers’ Pliny the Elder and the Younger. Transcendent beers still to this day. The West Coast IPA style is not in decline in my opinion but the NE style is making waves.
Hippie Ki-Yay! is better than Hoppy Ki Yay by Lonerider Brewing Company out of Raliegh, NC, which I also liked. But the name with the “Hoppy” works way better than Hippie. Sometimes being first pays big dividends.
Also the art work for Hippie Ki-Yay! just does not work for me. Is that a hippie Bruce Willis/John McClain? That is just wrong on so many levels. But it is way better than the stupid meme at the top of this post.
Playing to your strengths is generally good advice. It lets you play the game or do the work with the greatest chance of success. During a recent visit to Moo-Duck Brewery in Elizabethtown, PA that concept of “playing to one’s strengths” came to mind.
I had ordered a glass of Moo-Duck’s 291 Experimental IPA. This slightly hazy, light bodied, 5.8% IPA was unusual. It had a bit of citrus in the nose along with sweet smelling flowers. I was expecting it to be a mosaic hopped beer as I took my first sip but this was herbal and earthy. While it had floral notes, as the beer warmed up in the glass the floral quelled and herbal notes took complete control by adding a slight spiciness to the front and a long finish of faint eucalyptus and mild mint. I liked it.
You would be hard pressed to find a guy more down to Earth than Mike or his wife Kristen. So it makes sense that their beers should also reflect this. 291 Experimental IPA plays to their strengths and in the little I know them, their personalities. Easy drinking but earthy, it is a unique IPA that nicely showcases a new hop profile you probably have yet to meet.
Moo-Duck currently has The Remedy on tap as well. If you are looking for an herbal and flowery beer, brewed locally, you will be unlikely to find one more daring or interesting one. This wheat beer is brewed with local honey and an insane amount of Chamomile.
There are times where certain styles just work for a brewery. A great example of this is Victory Brewing Co. and pilsner. It a style of beer they work with well. They make many other fine beers but if its a pilsner, you can take it to the bank that it will be a world beater.
I have dropped some hints to it on Twitter, but tomorrow night I am recording Ep. 4 of The Operation Shutdown Podcast… and I really think this one will be gangbusters. Expect it to post sometime over the weekend. If I am lucky, it will be done by Friday night.
This post is not about a beer. It is decidedly not about Troegs Independent Brewing’s Wild Elf which was a absolutely phenomenal beer that subtlety played with various and transcendent flavors developed over years.
No. This post is about a beer glass.
The Troegs Splinter Glass. It is a very tall tulip and it is one of the finest vessels for enjoying a beer.
You see… generally I don’t give a damn about glassware. It is generally unimportant. In the grand scheme of craft beer culture the discussion of “proper glassware” is as pointless a discussion as debating if Yuengling is considered “craft” based just on volume. (They are not and that is an arbitrary measure.)
When I first started this blog, a friend wanted to read a post with recommendations for what beer glasses to buy for his newly built home bar. I dismissed the request and said it doesn’t matter that much. Buy a bunch of standard pint glasses, a couple tulips and a few of the beer can shaped glasses and you are covered for everything.
I still think that is good advice. Glassware is way overrated. Just get a couple glasses that you like.
I drink so many beers directly from the can. If they are in a bottle I grab either a standard pint or a tulip and be done with it. I spend zero time worrying about whether or not I am maximizing the flavor profile.
Yes. I acknowledge that various glasses can heighten certain flavors and aromas but I have enjoyed most beer exactly 0% less then other people that spend far too much time ruminating about the vessel endlessly.
But in this case… it matters.
This Troegs Splinter Glass is a delicate long stemmed tulip that holds exactly 0.375 liters of beer. The glass has a pleasant feel in the hand and holds the beer deep enough to allow the drinker to bring the libation to their lips while getting their nose deep into the glass to inhale all the volatiles brought forth by effervescence. With Wild Elf this was a sweet whiff of cherries and earthy wood.
The tall tulip holds the beer more like a cordial or congac, allowing you to explore the depth of flavor built over six years of cellaring in barrels. Giving you time to swirl the beer gently and behold the mahogany color. To sip and consider the brett, lactobacillus and wild yeast’s work in adding easy sour and undemanding funky flavors.
I spent an hour leisurely enjoying this beer. I figured that if John and Chris Tronger could wait six years to age and blend this beer I could take a long time to sip and enjoy it. The time I invested let the flavors bloom over the course of an hour. During that time I would swirl the glass and slowly sip. I was letting the beer rest until the almond flavors become pithy.
Even in the last sip, the 11% ABV never appeared either in flavor or with the nose deep in the glass meant to hold all those aromas close.
The brett and wild yeast characters are mild and inviting. The lacto soothing. This beer plays with the subtle end of flavors, seeking for you to sip and find them instead of clubbing you over the head. This is a beer offering you the chance to find earthy wood and nut flavors with a tart cherry, sour brett and slight wild funk in the finish. The rich mouth feel lingers and lets the flavors last. The tulip glassware brings this all forth and is the stage for a great beer to hold the limelight.
In short, take the time to share a bottle of Wild Elf and do it in proper glassware; for with this one, it matters.
Yes… This is another Troegs Independent Brewing beer post. I make no apologies. Homerism is just one of my biases.
Hell… I wrote this while drinking my way throught the majority of a four pack of Nible Giant.
Mad Elf over the years has been one of those beers where interest for me has waned. This iteration renews the lease. Its a damn good beer.
I feel like Troegs has not done enough to play up all the work that went into this beer. The “mother sauce” for this beer was put into barrels six years ago and was blended with other interrelations to give us the beer just released. I feel like this should be more prominently referenced when charging $12 a bottle.
Some beers are for sipping quietly late at night as a finish to the evening. These beers are subtle, deep, and complex. They are best enjoyed with quiet contemplation and either a book or a cigar.
Some beers are for drinking with a fine meal. They are built to cut through rich foods with flavors curated to compliment.
Some beers are a transcendent experience that can change the way you enjoy and/or think about beer in general. Beers that are to be celebrated by themselves, just as they are and as an achievement. These are beers that can go beyond just mere “whalez” status.
Then there are beers for drinking. These are my favorite. The ones that are not pretension. That are packed with hard, easy to define flavors, and come packing heat. These are beers for cracking open while lighting up the grill or starting the camp fire.
I am drinking these beers because I have nowhere to be, I have no work left to complete. The grass is mowed. The day is done and its only 3 pm. I am day drinking and I am proud of it.
Troeg’s newest once-a-year offering is a double IPA and is slightly outside their wheelhouse* while still being a thoroughly impressive IPA packed with citrus, tangerine, papaya and apricot flavors. It has a bit of pepper in the middle and the finish is peaches with a hint of alcohol that reminds you that this weighs in at a not subtle 9.0% ABV.
Troegs had the bollocks to put this heavy hitter into pounder cans. It’s a statement. This beer is for drinking. This is not a whale that you sip at your friend’s bottle share. This is a beer that tastes just fine right from the can, in the summer heat, quaffed boldly.
This is not a sipper even at 9%. Buy a four pack. Throw it on ice and sit on the deck and drink it. Enjoy the hell out of a big, boozy, tasty beer that tastes like Saturday afternoons in July feel.
Just drink the damn beer. It’s good.
I purchased a case of Nimble Giant in the summer of 2015 and it was really great but the body and the flavors on it this year is just fantastic. It seems like over the past year they took what they learned in making the small run and just took it all up a notch for this wider release.
If you want a fruit flavored filled double IPA this is the one. You don’t need to buy some fruit infused beer to get these flavors.
Yes…A four-pack (or six) of these is quite an afternoon. So what? Where else you got to be?
Fire up the grill. It is summer… or as I call it “Beer Season.”
This past weekend, Novak Djokovic won the French Open capping his career grand slam of tennis. It was a hot and humid day in Paris. He beat professional second banana Andy Murray in four sets to become the eighth man to complete the professional grand slam and the first man since 1969 to collect all four in a row. I watched the last set knowing that history was about to be made.
Watching the championship break point, and seeing “Djoker” define his career was anti-climactic. It happened and then… well it is the same with every tennis major. The winner just falls to his/her knees. Maybe lays down (this is a little weird in the French clay) and they cover their face with their hands. They shake their head in disbelief. They then get up and shake their opponents hand (“No. You’re the best. No really you are.”) Then they clap to the crowd with their racket.
It is always really weird.
It is because the victory is theirs alone. They have no one there with whom to celebrate. They are alone and standing in the arena to celebrate their accomplishment with thousands staring down at them. It looks and feels hollow.
In any other sport the victory is celebrated with teammates. Everyone jumps into the pile. Hugs, high fives, and the “Holy shit! Did you see what we just did?!?” is shared together. Even golfers have a caddy and the intimacy of a crowd pushed against the green with which to revel. Tennis players have ball boys that act as statues and officials that they just screamed at for a week over in or out calls measured in millimeters. Their joy is largely unshared which makes it far less joyful.
Beer is in danger of being the same. Beer is a beverage to be shared. Beer sipped alone largely lacks joy.
There is no beer better for sharing during this hot and humid summer than Sour Bikini by Evil Twin and Central PA local Intangible Ales. It is brewed together and should be enjoyed the same way.
This collaboration beer tastes like a summer beer should in 2016. Sour Bikini is refreshing and eminently crushable. The light bodied 3% ABV ale (yep… just 3%) has a citrusy, lemonade quality which is crisp and easy drinking. A hazy ale that is effortlessly quaffed generously right from the can. The slightly funky, sour start and finish are quick and do not linger too long with only a faint pucker of peach and citrus throughout.
You are going to want to fill up a cooler with these and hang out on the back deck with friends. Sour Bikini is not a beer for sipping while deep in thought about the trials of your life like some complex wintery barleywine. This beer is for drinking with your friends and laughing about the ironies of life, spraying the kids with the hose, saying “The damn country is going to hell!” or “Watch this!” It is for friends, and my beer friends are some of my favorite friends.
Total Recall is a fantastic movie. I love the original. It is one of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s best movies. It is a fantastically crafted original story by Philip K. Dick, brought to life on the screen and has aged pretty well for a sci-fi flick from 1990.
Pizza Boy recently attempted their own remake of a classic.
Al Kominski had a hand in brewing at least two Tröegs Scratch beers by my recollection: Scratch 58 and 98. Those Scratch Triple Mango IPAs, were high gravity beers with mango and hops in massive quantities. They were great. Classics of the Central PA craft brewing revolution.
I was excited to try it. I recalled the first two Mango Triple IPAs. I even pulled a cellared Scratch 98 out for #DrinkItNow in February. These were great beers. I was hoping for a great remake but I got something else.
The beer is totally opaque and sits thick in the glass. Mouth feel is akin to a thin, lightly carbonated tomato juice. The smell is mangos, dank hops, and booze. This beer is boozy from start to finish; and not pleasantly.
The flavors are of mango puree and mango rind. The hops are aggressive and punishing. The alpha acid bitterness, off the charts and lacking a balance of sweetness or malts to make it tolerable. The finish is that of Everclear and rubbing alcohol. This beer is bombed out so the name is appropriate. As a study for what is possible when pushing flavors to the extreme this beer achieves, but little else as it is nearly undrinkable.
Mango Bomb is like the three breasted mutant hooker from Total Recall. That sounds awesome. I wanted to see that.
But three tits are just weird and I only have two hands. So why was I so excited in the first place? More can sometimes just be more; not better.
Also the remakes rarely live up to the original. This remake was a bomb in name and result.
I have praised Al and Terry many times here on this blog and elsewhere. Unquestionably, they make great beers. Hell, they brewed a phenomenal beer with Boo-Berry cereal. But this one was a mess and just awful. That was a first for these guys. If they go another five years without putting out a bad beer, who could find much fault in that?
I was slow to post this, so now the beer is off the tap list at Al’s. I hope it gets toned down before making another appearance.
I hate ripping a beer. I don’t particularly like doing it.
This year’s collaboration beer has me thinking less about my journey to enjoying and now writing about craft beer. Instead I am thinking about the position of craft beer in Central PA and what it tells us about brewing decisions.
Before I even had my first sip of (717) on opening night, I was gathering thoughts about the brew as word slowly leaked out. I heard some rumors early on that this year’s collab brew would be draft only. Two theories swirled around this rumor: 1. Last year’s (717) did not sell well. It wasn’t well received and some cases languished on shelves. 2. It’s hard to get cans.
The later reasoning came from a more reliable source and it is the one I believe. I can understand not getting pounders, everyone but for the very biggest of contracts is getting squeezed by that issue. Even getting 12oz cans printed and ready on short notice can be nearly impossible.
The former was speculation with a halo of truthiness and at least had anecdotal support. While I enjoyed last year’s HBG Beer Week ale it was not widely loved and many people openly derided it as being a “hot mess.”
So maybe the brewers played it a little safe this year. They made a big, tasty ale but one that is more approachable and in line with a current and rising trend (e.g. citrus IPAs).
The 2016 version of (717) is an American IPA brewed with Citra, Nugget, and Azacca hops and the zest of 400 oranges. The opening aroma is nothing but orange. You pick up the oranges as the beer is pouring from the tap in front of you. They are abundant and wonderful. The hops fill out the middle with citrus, mango, and other tropical fruits. This is an IPA but it is not a bombed out bitter west coaster. The finish is long and leaves you with orange oils. This is an easy drinking IPA that belies the 7.17% ABV. The red hue of the medium bodied ale is really great and kind of mystifies the style and taste.
2016’s (717) is a beer that will not be challenged in finding happy imbibers. This is a double edged sword for me. I like this beer and I like it a lot. Yet I personally enjoyed last year’s “hot mess” more. It was pushing boundaries and challenged the craft beer drinker. It was a bold beer that played with clashing styles. It’s various and competing flavors borrowed heavily from the three brew houses. 2015’s (717) made for a more dynamic beer with multiple layers of stratified flavors.
This year’s (717) is riding at the crest of a wave of tropical and citrus IPAs that are washing over the craft beer market and should make for a very popular beer during Harrisburg Beer Week and beyond… until it sells out. Go grab one and tell me what you think.
Trust Lando Calrissian himself Mr. Billy Dee Williams: “Pizza Boy Crowlers work every time!”
Before we begin… This post is about three things: The shelf life of Crowlers, Billy Dee Williams (Lando Calrissian), and Sour IPAs. I swear by the end this will all make sense and the three actually belong together.
Al’s of Hampden was the first in Central PA to get a Crowler, instantly it was a hit. The popularity of Crowlers became very apparent to me when Al’s Pizza Boy Brewing released Bourbon Barrel Aged Sunny Side Up Stout. It was a phenomenal beer. BBA Sunny Side Up was only sold on draft, which meant that you could have a glass at the bar or get a Crowler of it to take home. That was until Al sold out of all his cans. This led to some really pathetic bitching on social media by entitled beer drinkers.
Part of why the Crowlers sold out was a number of people buying 6, 8, 10, or 12 Crowlers to horde in stock or to trade. In December, I got into a bit of snit with some guys on Twitter that were talking about still having cans of BBA Sunny Side Up in their fridge. What are you holding on to beer in a Crowler for?
Buy the beer, take it home and then drink it. Enjoy it.
Crowlers are not like the beer version of freezing Han in Carbonite.
“Yes. He is alive and in perfect hibernation.
He will stay very fresh.”
Speaking of Lando… I wonder what it would cost for Billy Dee Williams to cut a Colt 45 like promo for Lacto Calrissian. It is a sour double IPA, also by Pizza Boy, and one of the best damn beers I have had so far in 2016. This lactobacillus bacteria “infected” ale has a depth of flavor few beers can match. There is citrus peel in the front end then a subtle alpha acid hoppiness along with some unique lime in the middle. The finish is both creamy and slightly sour as the lactic acid is more than evident in the beautifully bodied brew. The finish is strong and long lastingly pleasant, which is good because this 8.2 ABV ale has no alcohol burn and could sneak up on you like Greedo.
If you have a chance to swing by Al’s and get a draft of Lacto Calrissian I doubt you will be disappointed. And if you choose to take a Crowler of it home… Don’t sit on it.
Post Script Thoughts: Sour IPAs, like Tropical or Citrus IPAs, are hot right now; like Tatooine and her two suns hot. These twists on the the craft beer lover’s old stand by are showing that we are a long way from brewers running out of innovative ways to give us new and exciting styles. It is also a way to introduce sour beer to the skeptic. Both are good things.
In regards to the above mentioned people buying 4, 6, 8, 10 or 12 Crowlers of BBA Sunny Side Up: Do what ever you want with your money. I have no complaint with you purchasing all that beer. I just find it ridiculous to horde a Crowler. That stuff has a serious risk of going bad. It has to be at risk of going flat. Please… don’t horde Crowlers.
Han shot first. There is no debate.
MS Paint FTW! I mean, just take in the work at the top of this page. Just look at it!
I am bit of a Star War’s geek… so this post was more fun than you can possibly imagine.