Ep. 8 : The Central PA Six-Pack

Operation Shutdown cover art 3

In this episode of the Operation Shutdown, I am joined again by special guest Tierney from StoutsandStilettos.com. This time we discuss former guest Bryan D. Roth’s The Six-Pack Project and offer our take on a Central PA version.

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 check out Bryan’s blog This Is Why I’m Drunk and the other lists on from his Six-Pack Project.

After you listen, if you want to flame Tierney or I for the our selections, be sure to yell at us on Twitter: @tyrannytierney and @BearcatOnBeer. We are ready to defend our hot takes!

What we were drinking:

Troegs Independent Brewing Scratch 256
Neshaminy Creek Brewing Co. Shape of Hops to Come
WeyerbacherBrewing  Imperial Pumpkin Ale (2015)
Pizza Boy Brewing Co. Sunny Side Up Stout BBA

The Central PA Six-Pack:

Troegs Independant Brewing Dreamweaver
Victory Brewing Company Prima Pils
Yuengling Porter
Stoudts Scarlet Lady ESB
Troegs Perpetual IPA
PizzaBoy Brewing Co. Sunny Side Up Stout

Honorable Mentions:
Victory Brewing Company Dirtwolf
Selin’s Grove Brewing (Sasion De Peche)
ZerOday Brewing Company Mango Hab
Liquid Hero Brewery Juste Le Bout Saison

Other mentioned beers/links —
Victory’s Parkesburg location
The Shape of Jazz to Come
The Shape of Punk to Come
Troegs’ Open Top Fermentation (This is a cool video)
Elysian Brewing Pumpking Punkuccino
Southern Tier Brewing Co. Pumpking Cold Press
Stone Brewing Crime and Punishment
Tattered Flag in Middletown, PA
Millworks, Harrisburg PA

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.

Cheers!

Ep. 6: A Proclivity for Beer

Fetish Label
Fetish Brewing Company has some really fresh labels.

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.

Beers we drank:
Fetish Submissive
Feitsh Bumble
Fetish Vinnie
Flying Dog Heat Series Carolina Reaper Peach IPA
Troegs BBA Troegenator

Show Links:

My 2015 post on Fetish Brewing Company

WTF is a CSA?

Spring House Brewing Co.

Lancaster Malt Brewing Co. (The former name of Lancaster Brewing Company)

Lancaster Central Market (Which is awesome.)

Mean Cup (Which has the coolest logo ever. Full stop.)

Ballast Point and The Billion Dollar Deal (This link has autoplaying video… I am sorry.)

Yes…Someone in Lancaster Country really did have relations with a minipony.

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.

Cheers!

Post-Script:

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.

Napster, Music with Daddy Issues, and NE IPAs

Napster Bad Beer Good
Lars Ulrich can go to hell.

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.

Similarly, the first time I got to try a North-East Style IPA I knew this would be a shift.

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.

The West Coast style IPA hop bomb had been put on notice. We have a new player in town.

Since then Tired Hands, Lawson’s Finest Liquids, Maine Brewing Company and Hill Farmstead Brewery have crossed my lips. I am now actively seeking Tree House Brewing Company, Trillium Brewing Company, 14th Star Brewing Co.,and others.

West Coast IPA still have their place. In years past, I made a special trips for Blind Pig and Pliny the Elder and the Younger. I love Racer 5 and Sculpin. Sierra Nevada Torpedo is a widely available classic. I have sought out some of the greatest of these hoppy, bitter, and floral beers and plan to continue to enjoy them. But… its the NE style that gets me excited now.

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.

While I was standing there listening to Art Alexakis embody the North West grudge sound and singing about his deadbeat dad, I sipped on a solo cup of Hippie Ki-Yay! by Brewmaster Ryan DeLutis for The Brewery at Hershey. Its a juicy and fruity NE Style IPA, as hazy as it is crushable.  As such, Hippie Ki-Yay! rises with this newest wave of craft beers.

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.

Post-Script:

*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.

Vineyard at Hershey had 10,000 people come out to see Everclear. I never would have thought they would get that many. I don’t think they did either. Beer lines were very long. But word is they plan to deal with it next year with more taps to get shorter lines.

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.

Die Hard is a Top 5 movie of all time and it is the greatest Christmas movie of all time. Period.

Playing To Your Strengths

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.

The name of this beer is in reference to the hops that give it the distinct flavors, Experimental Hop 291, or LORAL as it has been branded. Moo-Duck’s newest small batch IPA beautifully showcases this relatively new hop variety.

What brewer Mike Brubaker has done here is play to his strengths. I have said it before when describing Moo-Duck and it is just as true today: Moo Duck’s beers are best when they are playing with earthy, flowery, and herbal flavors; the flavors of the outdoors.

291 Experimental IPA does just that.

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.

Cheers!

Post Script:

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 Is Not A Beer Review

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.

This glass.

IMG_7221

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.

A lot.

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.

Post Script:

Beer can shaped glasses are vastly underrated.

The glass pictured above is specifically a TeKu glass. (Thank you friend of the blog and guest on Episode 2 of Operation Shutdown, Easy Pretzel, for pointing this out.)

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. 

Six. Years.

Its worth every penny. Highly recommended.

Don’t Overthink It. Just Drink The Damn Beer

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.

Nimble Giant 2016.JPG

Troegs Independent Brewing’s Nimble Giant is that beer.

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.

Post Script:

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?

*Credit to @EdGrohl for this. You can hear his take on this beer in the pilot episode of Operation Shutdown.

 

Beer and Victory Taste Better When Shared

FullSizeRender 2

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.

This is the beer I want to put in their hand on a hot, humid summer evening. I need to share this beer with them, eat some hot dogs, light a fire in the pit out back, and listen to the cicadas beg for their one chance at getting laid in 17 years.

Do it together because celebrating life is a summer thing and no one celebrates life alone. If you did, it would be weird, like winning the French Open and having no one to hug.

Post-Script:

Stouts & Stilettos has a great rundown of Summer beers to enjoy. I recommend their post and the beers there in. It’s a great list.

Here are some others to consider:

Summer Love by Victory
Jammer by Sixpoint
Pacifico – Skip the Corona, drink this.
Allagash White
Sunshine Pils by Troegs
Red Stripe – It tastes so good on vacation who cares that it is made in Latrobe, PA?
Seersucker Pils by Abita (Is there anything more southern than a seersucker suit in summer?)
Orange Blossom Cream Ale by Buffalo Bill (For Mick)
Sunshine by New Belgium
Crusher by Iron Hill Brewery