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. 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!

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!

Hops ‘N’ Clocks

Rod Smith and Chad Rieker from CKW with their Major Award

This past Friday The National Watch and Clock Museum hosted their eighth annual Hops ‘N’ Clock beerfest in Columbia, PA.  This was the fourth time I have attended this unique and perennially sold out event.  The National Watch and Clock Museum is one of those great secrets of Central PA.  It’s a hidden gem.  Since opening in 1977 it has grown from less than 1,000 pieces to more than 12,000 artifacts and time pieces detailing humanity’s efforts of tracking the passage of time.

In early July each year the museum invites local brewers and restaurants to take over the building and ply visitors with tasty libations and light fare.  For a small donation ($30) you get a ticket for three hours with a up to a dozen breweries and a near equal number of restaurants each offering generous samples with the opportunity to check out the entire museum.

This year saw a great lineup of Lancaster and York based breweries including, Gift Horse Brewing, Wacker BrewingLancaster Brewing Company, Liquid Hero Brewing, and Columbia Kettle Works; as well as Roy Pitz Brewing, and Troegs. Bailee’s Homebrew & Wine Supplies had an assortment of homebrewed beers and offered tips for prospective and established homebrewers. The fest was not all beer with J & J Miracle Mead and Wyndrindge Farm poured samples of a mead and hard cider.

A number of great food options included two from Columbia; Prudomme’s Lost Cajun Kitchen and Bully’s.  Both restaurants have impressive and well curated beer selections if you are ever in the area.

Music was provided by Fire in the Glen playing a lively mix of traditional Irish and Scottish folk/drinking songs.

The sold out event was well attended but not overbooked.  It was easy to get a refill with more than enough of time to try all the offerings.

Many great libations were on hand but some of them stood out more than others:

Odin Stök by J & J Miracle Mead is a fully fermented buck wheat honey mead.  It drinks dry and heavy; tasted of buck wheat honey but lacked any of the sweetness.  This was my first time trying mead and it was an interesting experience.  Clocking in at 18% ABV, Odin Stök was for sipping and would make for a nice after dinner drink.

Citra Wheat by Gift Horse Brewing Company was a well-executed American pale wheat ale with a healthy dose of Citra hops.  Dry and citrusy it made for an easy drinking beer that stood up well among a room full of good brews. Gift Horse’s Roasted Irish Ale was also good with plenty of roasted malts and bready notes.  Gift Horse is still working towards completing their brewery in York but once it is done I plan to pay a visit.

Rülpsen Meister by Liquid Hero Brewery is a Roggenbier.  If you have not heard of the Roggenbier style you can be forgiven.  It was a first for me as well. I don’t know if Rülpsen Meister was true to style as it was my first but it did have a great rye spiciness along with a solid body while being quaffable.  If you get the chance to grab one of these it is highly recommended.  Each year that Liquid Hero has come to this event they bring a surprising style or uniquely brewed beer.  It’s shows commitment to the event and is really appreciated.

Bitter Beer Face by Bailee’s Homebrew was a 100 IBU pale ale that lived up to the great name.  The homebrew was an impressive tasting beer regardless of it being brewed in someone’s garage; I assume.  A intensely bitter pale ale dosed with a variety of hops.  It provided a dry long finish that showed off the resin and dank flavors.

Citra Session by Columbia Kettle Works was the best beer I had all night.  It was perfectly executed and showed off the Citra hop flavors beautifully. Heavy in citrus and tropical notes in the nose with a slight grapefruit.  It was properly bitter with a clean and light mouthfeel and a crisp finish.  Easy drinking and refreshing, Citra Session stood head and shoulders above the rest.  I was also not the only one to think so highly of the most local of brewers attending as Columbia Kettle Works won the “People’s Choice Award.”  Columbia Kettle Works is a short five minute walk from the museum and had plenty of local support.

Hops ‘N’ Clocks was a great event that supports a great museum.  If you would like to attend next year look for it the first Friday after the 4th of July with tickets going on sale in early June.  It is a great time and provides needed support for a community trust and you will be hard pressed to find a more unusual atmosphere for holding a beer festival.

Another Reason to Celebrate Craft Beer? Good!

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With barely any rest from the grand success of the inaugural Harrisburg Beer Week we now find ourselves in the middle of American Craft Beer Week; a national celebration of the beverage we love.

American Craft Beer Week (ACBW) was started by the Brewers Association to celebrate and promote the craft beer industry in America. I have highlighted a few local breweries since the recent inception of this blog but thought this week would be a fitting opportunity to give some quick recommendations if you plan to venture out and celebrate ACBW around the Lancaster, Harrisburg and York area.

First up is the brewery closest to me, Columbia Kettle Works. They are on the verge of celebrating their one-year anniversary this Saturday May 16th and have been doing amazing work over the course of the past year. If you go, I recommend the Amber IPA. On Saturday for the big celebration, they will be having a number of exclusive and limited supply beers on tap including a barrel-aged beer that I have been watching slowly mature behind their bar for a couple months. Should be a great weekend. I will be dropping by so expect a full report next week.

In Harrisburg, swing by ZerØday Brewing Company and sample their Dolce Vita. I have raved about this beer previously and if you have yet to enjoy this sweet stout you are really missing out. Also ZerØday IPA Ep. 2 is on tap. I have yet to try this one but plan to do so this week.

In York, take the time to enjoy a fantastic Coconut Porter by Crystal Ball Brewing Company. I recently got to meet two of the brewers and you will not find a more welcoming and enthusiastic couple of guys. They are passionate about their product and took the time to discuss why they care about beer and what all they put into their product… also the Coconut Porter is really, really good.

If you are in Ephrata you should check out St. Boniface Brewing and get a taste of Offering #22 Berliner Weisse. It is a devastatingly crisp and refreshing beer and should go well with the warm sunny weather we have recently been enjoying. While you are there be sure to pick up a Crowler of their Paideia Pale Ale. I freaking love Crowlers and I really loved Paideia.

Speaking of crisp refreshing beers… Moo-Duck’s Honey! Basil Blonde is just the perfect blend of flavors for this spring weather. If you are not familiar with Moo-Duck Brewing, they recently hosted the Beer Busters Podcast and owners Mike and Kristen Brubaker were part of a great episode. Give it a listen and definitely check take the time to check out their beers.

Finally, if you are in Lancaster proper you should visit the Tap Room and sample Lexicon Devil a grapefruit IPA that is somehow as good as the name. I loved it. Also when you are visiting Spring House be sure to remember that they serve half pints. The perfect size of beer for the drinker that wants more than the little flights but wants to have a few different brews.

Cheers.

Bearcat’s Weekly Beer Related Links Friday News Dump

KeystoneEdge.com posted a great rundown about the upcoming Harrisburg Beer Week.  It makes my post look like what it is… the sad drivel of an Internet enabled sot.  Great to see the hard work for Tierney, Sara, Chelsie and Colleen get recognized.

Speaking of the Stouts and Stilettos girls… they recently had a nice makeover for their website.  It is now 100% more girly and it looks perfect.  They have a nice niche going writing about craft beer from the woman’s perspective. I especially enjoy reading Tierney’s postings on craft brews and brewing.  Cheers to them.

Columbia Kettle Works (CKW) has just released Bald².  I am a big fan of both CKW and the Bald Guy Ale.  I don’t generally care for ales with rye, but this one just works.  Can’t wait to try it taken to the next level.  CKW also still have their Imperial Wheat IPA on tap which got the Bearcat Seal of Approval; be sure to get that one while it lasts.  I plan to pick up a growler of both.

Drinking barrel aged beer is not just a great way to try some of the most complex and tastiest beers but is also good for Mother Nature.

Bell’s Brewing Company officially announced they are making and will be canning Pumpkin Peach Ale during 2015.  Naturally, this will be brewed the easy why just like that stupid Bud Super Bowl Commercial told us.

Funck’s Restaurant in Palmyra will be having an all Pennsylvania beer tap takeover during American Craft Beer Week (May 11-17).

This Saturday is the Jersey Mike Rock+Run 5K sponsored by Al’s of Hampden (Pizza Boy Brewing).  I ran the inaugural race last year and loved it.  If I could have done it this year I would have done so.  If you have not signed up there is still be time for last minute entries including day of race sign ups.  Its a great deal of fun and a great cause and it gets the Bearcat Seal of Approval.

Harrisburg Beer Week

HBW Harrisburg gets a bad rap around here by the people that live in the area. “West Shore” white people refuse to cross water and would rather fight snarling traffic nightmares within a commercialized suburb. Harrisburg downtown can’t get out of its own way sometimes to succeed as it should. No better example of that than the hostile government boondoggle that is parking. It’s easy for those outside of Harrisburg to think of it as second rate when the most visible tenants (politicians) in this city are at best second rate and have a surprising number of outright criminals… but that is another post for another failed blog. There is one thing this area has that is first rate… Beer. From the established heavy hitter (Troegs), to the sublime upstart (Intangible Ales), to the spunky local (Columbia Kettle Works), we have an abundance of quality craft beer options here in the center of the Commonwealth. This is a long way of saying, its about time Harrisburg got its own Beer Week. In a couple weeks, Harrisburg will be holding its inaugural Beer Week and the timing and the planning appear to be perfect. Harrisburg and the Central PA area should be proud of its working man libations. I personally will be attending as many of the 120 currently scheduled events as possible. If you are reading this post I would expect the same from you. Celebrating and supporting local beer is critical to ensuring that the brewers continue to thrive in this area. It’s about time we celebrate our diverse and excellent craft brewers in the area. The girls at Stouts and Stilettos and Sara Bozich are putting in a ton of work to get this off the ground. ABC, Pizza Boy and Troegs are throwing their collective weight behind this endeavor right now by brewing a fascinating hybrid beer, (717). This crazy brew will debut one month from now at the kick off event. It will also be sold in 16 oz cans throughout the namesake area code. I can’t wait to get my hands on some. But this is not just about getting together to share our favorite social lubricant. Harrisburg Beer Week has a beneficiary in the Harrisburg River Rescue and Emergency Services. This means that your dedication to social drinking also supports a social good. I reached out to Tierney Pomone of StoutsandStilettos.com and she was, as always, kind enough to give me her thoughts:

“I’m really excited about the PA Women in Beer Conference on 5/1. 4 women who work with/for/own PA breweries are on the panel with a lead q&a, beer from Gift Horse in York, food from LBC. I really love supporting women in beer and think it’s important to have this open panel.
Each woman has a different role at their respective brewery so it’s going to be a unique opportunity to really engage.”

There are lots of events and they can all be found at HarrisburgBeerWeek.com. The week will close with The Little Big Beers Fest at ABC where local brewers will be offering small batch beers (little) that are heavy hitters (big). I already have my ticket. If you are going, I look forward to seeing you there and discussing all the great things about our local brews. Harrisburg Beer Week emphatically gets the Bearcat Seal of Approval

/Updated 3/10/15 to reflect the hard work of Ms. Sara Bozich who I regretfully left out when discussing the efforts to create the Harrisburg Beer Week.  Apologies Sara.  I owe you a beer.