Ep. 13 The LegenDairy Podcast

In Episode 13 of the Operation Shutdown, I welcome back friends of the show Easy PretzelEd Grohl and special guest Al Kominski of Al’s of Hampden and Pizza Boy Brewing.

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Al was kind enough to invite us to come to his place, lend a hand in his brewing process for a couple Milk Sugar IPAs and then we got a deep tour of the brewery.

A special thanks to Al for welcoming us into his workday, for buying us a couple beers and for answering the dozens and dozens of questions that we asked about his business, his BrauKon system, the pizza shop and his history, and the wider craft beer industry in PA.

This episode is broken into three parts:

Part 1: My Interview with Al at the brewery

Part 2: Dave, Ed, and I reviewing our brew day

Part 3: Post LegenDairy Release thoughts from Dave, Ed, and I

 

Link Dump:

Al’s of Hampden/Pizza Boy Brewing
Tired Hands
LegenDairy IPA Peach
LegenDairy IPA Pineapple
PA’s New Six-Pack Law
The Brewery at Hershey: Special Ops Mango Milk Shake IPA
Ryan DeLutis (Head Brewer at The Brewery at Hershey)
Shangy’s Beer Distributor
Westy’s Beer Distributor
DTF 2.0 by ZerØday Brewing Company (Yes that is a whole tree going into the boil.)
Monk’s Cafe in Center City Philadelphia

Here are some photos from our brew day:

The recipe
Al slinging fresh kegs for distribution
Eric dropping some Simcoe hops
Your host tasting the warm fresh wort

No After Show this week but there is a ton of stuff in this episode and I really hope you enjoy listening to it as much as we enjoyed brewing, drinking the beer, and then talking about it.

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:

A huge thank you to Al, Terry, and Roger for being such gracious hosts.

Special thanks to Eric, a loyal listener that came out on our brew day. It was great to have him at the brew day with us and we are very thankful for his input into this show that day.

And a special thank you to all the people that tried LegenDairy and took the time to reach out to us and let us know their thoughts on the beer. Can’t begin to tell you how much I enjoyed hearing from you guys.

Sorry I it took so long to get this episode up but there was a bit of editing involved and I wanted all the parts to come together prior to publishing. I think it was worth the wait. 

If you have not tried the beer yet… Please run down to Al’s to check it out before it is gone because once it is sold out Al and Terry are not brewing it again.

Ep. 10: I Want To Spray Paint Your Bottle

In Episode 10 of the Operation Shutdown, I welcome special guest Chelsie Markel from Stouts & Stilettos and It’s a Brew Life to discuss design in craft beer, fingerless gloves, a little about Harrisburg Beer Week, and her new blog.

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A quick aside about this post… It has a ton of links about the breweries we discuss and I tried to keep them in the order we discussed.

A big thank you to Chelsie for coming on the show. You can follow Chelsie on Twitter @dzyngrl. Also be sure to check out her new blog It’s a Brew Life and read her stuff at Stouts & Stilettos.

What We Were Drinking:

Crooked Stave Wild Sage
Almanac Beer Co. Tropical Platypus
The Alchemist: Focal Banger and The Crusher (Thanks to listener @Brookaveli and Dave for hooking me up with this beer.)

Breweries We Discussed:

Troegs Independant Brewing
Dogfish Head
Flying Dog Brewery (Ralph Steadman)
Highway Manor Brewing (Camp Hill, PA)
Creature Comforts Brewing Co.
Sole Artisan Ales
Roundabout Brewery
Fetish Brewing Company
Maine Beer Company
Russian River Brewing Company
Deschutes Brewing
Stone Brewing Company
Free Will Brewing Co.
Tired Hands
Green Flash Brewing Co.
Otter Creek Brewing Co.
Clown Shoes
3 Floyds Brewing Co.
New Belgium Brewing Co. (Fat Tire)
Appalachian Brewing Company
Golden Avalanche Brewery (Kutztown)

Other Links:

Oh Beautiful Beer
Brewed in the Burg by GK Visual
Harrisburg Beer Week
The Eternal Tap in St. Mary’s, PA
Death of Flagships: But Why?
A Tribute to a Mentor and a Friend
Market Cross; Carlisle, PA

House of 1000 Beers; New Kensington, PA

Beer Busters Podcast

Be sure to stick around for the After Show in which we discuss writing a beer blog, the design ideas behind Bearcat On Beer and The Operation Shutdown.

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. 5 Four Loko for Tierney

In a twist, John McLaughlin’s theme music was used to usher in a reign of tyranny. Or in this case, the reign of Tierney Pomone from Stouts & Stilettos for Ep. 5 of The Operation Shutdown.

In this episode, Tierney and I drink Four Loko. (Spoiler: It was awful.)

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Just looking at this gave me a headache.

Harrisburg craft beer devotees, know Tierney for her work as founder and chief of Stouts & Stilettos, but in my mind her greatest claim is that Harrisburg Beer Week was her brain child. We had a great discussion bouncing around a number of topics with ease.

Show links:
Tierney’s Love of Pokemon
Cute Shoes
Writers Block
30 Second Beer Reviews
Being a woman surrounded by bearded 30-something white dudes when drinking.
Getting crap from d-bag craft beer bros.
Juggalos
Harrisburg Beer Week
2015 (717) Collaboration Ale vs. 2016 (717) Collaboration Ale

When not playing with her cat Simcoe, Tierney can be found on Twitter via @StoutsStiletto or @TyrannyTierney, on Instragram and Facebook. Yes… She named her cat after a hop variety. 

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!

 

Beer and Victory Taste Better When Shared

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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

Happy Birthday

  Dogfish Head’s Birthday Beer to Help Celebrate BoB’s 1st Birthday

It was a year ago, a couple weeks after first purchasing the domain above, that I got my first post up on the site. The guiding principle I gave myself was “Beer does exist in a vacuum; don’t just write about what is in the glass.” That idea really came to life when I attended the Harrisburg Beer Week kick-off party and sipped on the (717) Collaboration Ale by Troegs, Pizza Boy and Appalachian Brewing Company. I wrote for that post what is still one of my favorites.

Too many beer reviews on the Interwebs talk about the beer in a way that focuses exclusively on what’s in the glass. That ignores a big part of what craft beer is to me.

Drinking beer should and can be more than an alcohol delivery device.  The expectation is that craft beer brings more to the imbiber than just booze. It has a back story, is an artistic endeavor, and has cultural or personal relevance that should be discussed. Some posts I wrote did this well; others maybe not so much. In the end I think most worked.

Looking back as some of the more popular and/or interesting posts:

There was the time I tried to define craft beer.

The time I compared Peter Seller’s Dr. Strangelove to funky beer.

The above referenced story about (717) Collaboration Ale and my love of craft beer.

My most widely read post this year, by a wide margin, was about Costly Beer vs. Expensive Beer.

Most importantly as I look back I need to thank some people:

  • First, my friend Bobby C. who encouraged me to start the blog. He is a good dude and I have yet to find a more positive and supportive friend.
  • To Theo and Brandalynn Armstrong (Zeroday Brewing Co.) could never be more open to discussing brewing, starting and now growing their business, and what makes it takes to make great beer. Happy Birthday to you guys too.
  • Rod Smith of Columbia Kettle Works and Mike and Kristen from Moo-Duck Brewery, Al from Pizza Boy, who each spent occasions discussing with me the process of brewing.
  • The Beer Busters Podcast for having me on the show. That was fun and crazy nice of these guys. Love the show.
  • Tierney, Chelsie and Sara from Stouts and Stilettos and SaraBozich.com. They have all been supportive and engaging over the past year.  Extra thanks to Tierney for letting me bounce ideas off her and for offering inspiration.
  • Most importantly thank you to my readers. This vanity project has been a lot of fun and I hope it continues to be fun the future.

Looking forward to year two… I have some plans and additions:

  • Podcasting: Looking to lauch maybe by June, if I am lucky. The next thing that goes up on time for this blog with the first thing. Hell… this post is two days late. I am planning for the podcasts to be a short (think ~25 minutes) conversation with some of my beer friends. These are interesting people and I think you will like to hear from them.
  • Other Writers: I have discussed with a couple people about posting on this blog from time-to-time. It would be a rarity but it should happen. Really hoping to have one guy join… He is a total lunatic but he really knows his beers. He would be completely insane, gonzo, and it could be so much fun.
  • Lagers and Pilsners: In 2016 I am going to planning to drink more Lagers and Pilsner beers. Hoping this will broaden my taste and hopefully you will find some good beers too.
  • More Regular Posts (LOL J/K I can’t promise that…)

Again… thanks for reading and I hope year two is even better than the first.

Cheers!

A Beer as Prologue For My Love of Craft Beer

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About dozen years ago, when I first moved to Harrisburg from Pittsburgh I lived in downtown on North 2nd Street. I visited the bar scene along my street three to four nights a week. I worked at a beer distributor as a second job a couple weeknights and on weekends. Back then I considered myself above the average beer drinker because I preferred Guinness and spoke well of Yuengling Porter. Drinking dark beer alone a differentiator and sign of my good taste.

Then one cold afternoon more than a decade ago I wandered into Troegs Brewing Company’s tasting room; the one that used to be in Harrisburg. I had a Hopback, a Pale Ale or maybe even a Troeganator… it blew my mind. Here was beer of a completely different nature. It was flavorful in a way I did not know it could be. It was a revelation in every sense of the word.

Shortly there after, seeking out other beers of high regard I stepped into Appalachian Brewing Company (ABC) on Cameron Street. Their beers were sweeter and more approachable but no less interesting to my plebe beer tasting palate. Here again was beer brewed with care and respect. ABC’s then brewer, now owner/brewmaster of Roundabout Brewing in Pittsburgh, was my neighbor. This along with drinking regularly at Troegs helped expand my interest in craft beers.

Years later after I had given up on corporate beer and became fully committed to craft brews, a couple friends and I discovered Al’s of Hampden. This was back when he had six tables and maybe twenty or so taps. Here my world opened to styles of beer that I couldn’t have found elsewhere… Saisons, Black IPAs (remember when they were the new hotness), West Coast and triple IPAs and “What the hell is Brettanomyces?”

So last night at the Harrisburg Beer Week kickoff party, I had a beer that in many ways celebrated not just the region but my own journey to craft beer. (717) Collaboration Ale by ABC, Pizza Boy Brewing (Al’s of Hampden), and Troegs Brewing Company is my history with beer in a can. While Sara Bozich and the ladies at Stouts and Stilettos kicked off what took a ton of work to birth, I was thinking about my decade long journey with beer and the Harrisburg area; the two are woven together.

(717) Collaboration Ale is a strange beer that is brewed for a wonderfully strange area code. The area code where it gets its name holds a company town where government is the company. It is also home to some of the most fertile farmland in the country. The area has city life and Amish carriages all at once. Just as the area code is a hybrid, so is this beer. It has the character of noble hops like an IPA with the range of flavors of a Farmhouse Ale/Saison. This beer is hoppy in the front with a pronounced sweetness while providing the long dry finish and Chardonnay tang of a farmhouse brew.

Hybrid beers by their very nature are complex but this one is just uncanny in its depth. It starts with a billowy and long lasting head from a vigorous pour that provides a welcome yeast and peppery aroma along with some sweet and sour flavors in the nose. The slightly amber and completely clear and clean appearance are inviting and representative of the exacting standards these brewers demand.

The flavor profile provides for a bit of the honey sweetness up front as is typical for ABC beers in my opinion. The middle is all hops with a generous Nugget hop profile that is all Troegs. The finish is long and dry with a proper white wine and slightly sour notes clearly attributed to Pizza Boy Brewing’s history of sublime sours. The ability to definitively pick out the distinct characteristics of the three brew houses is truly unique for this collaboration. This beer is incredibly impressive on multiple levels.

The 7.17% ABV ale is easy drinking and sits comfortably in either a standard pint glass to be casually imbibed or savored in a snifter quietly with reflection. 

It is available on draft during Harrisburg Beer Week at Al’s of Hampden, ABC, and Troegs and will be released in 16 oz cans on Monday, April 27th at distributors in the area. If you get the chance, I highly recommend picking some up.

(717) Collaboration Ale gets the Bearcat Seal of Approval.

Beer as Abstraction and Comedic Repetition

If you ever had the pleasure of driving through Elizabethtown, PA you likely got a whiff of what are two of the biggest industries in Central PA; chocolate and dairies.  One is decidedly more pleasant than the other.  On breezy days the roasted chocolate aroma can waft for miles around from the M&M Mars plant.  It is always welcome and inviting.  Central PA has an abundance of chocolatiers. These include M&M, Hershey and preferred by me, Wilbur in Lititz.

In order to supply these plants there are plenty of dairy cows in the area.  Driving around Lancaster county back roads gives you a real sense of just how big the dairy industry is. They are everywhere.

These two facts makes Lancaster Brewing Company’s Double Chocolate Milk Stout a great representative for its namesake. I procured a 22 oz. bomber and poured the dark brown opaque beer into a snifter glass which brought forth a light brown to tan head that laced the glass lightly.  Aromas of bitter chocolate like a 70% cacao dark chocolate bar are accompanied by a soft sweetness and is inviting.  Lancaster Brewing created this with cacao nibs and it is evident with every sip.  This beer is chocolate through-and-through.

It has a velvety texture in the mouthfeel and is thick without the greasiness of some imperial stouts.  The lactose sugars are evident in the finish along with hints of caramel and roasted malts.  The finish is long, of again, cacao.  The beer tastes of Hershey’s syrup but has more of a refined chocolate expression in the long lasting and pleasant finish. This beer is beyond smooth in texture and mouthfeel with 6.8% ABV that is never evident or intrusive.

Deep, dark chocolate again and again given as a single note played over and over. But it works in the same way Portlandia got cacao to work as an example of repetition as comedy. If you like chocolate, especially semi-sweet or bitter chocolate you will love this beer.  The chocolate notes are divided up as you drink. In that the front it is sweeter and along the lines of milk or semi-sweet chocolate. The more bitter and refined dark cacao flavors come in the finish to wrap things up with a flourish. It’s dynamic yet monochromatic not unlike Kazimir Malevich’s Suprematist Composition: White on White.  This libation is not deconstructing what it is to be “beer” as monochromatic art can change both the concept of abstraction and art but it does let you explore the complexities of doubling down on a singular flavor profile.

Double Chocolate Milk Stout is an excellent dessert beer.  As local strawberries are soon in season, I would highly recommend this as a pairing or do as I plan to the next time and drop a scoop of vanilla ice cream in for a beer float.  It can be found on tap or in 12 oz bottles, but I would spring for the 22 oz. bomber and split it with a friend; it’s just right.

Lancaster Brewing Company’s Double Chocolate Milk Stout gets the Bearcat Seal of Approval.