CSA Beer > CSA Arugula

IMG_3418   IMG_3420

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a big deal these days.  It does things like providing direct support to local and community farms and giving families season long access to fresh fruits and vegetables.  That is a good thing.  It also lets you lord over your friends with things like how you KNOW where your food comes from, “I only eat seasonally available food”, and “my home is now only farm to table.”

It’s the first step towards being an anti-GMO, anti-vaxxer truther but as long as you keep just to the CSA, we your friends, promise to not hate you too much.

The guys at Fetish Brewing Company (simply known as Aaron, Brandon, and Mike) have taken the CSA farming idea and applied it to brewing.

I did not sign up back in January when the chance appeared.  Now after finding two of their brews at The Fridge and finally giving them a try I am starting to regret it.

You see, my initial thought when I first heard about the CSA approach to brewing was: “I am aggressively promiscuous with my beers.  I have few loyalties and I don’t want to be tied down to any one brewer.”  Also there is a high level of trust here… I am buying all my beer from these guys up front; I have to hope they will still be there through the end of twelve months.

That might have been shortsighted on my part.  For two years these guy have delivered; so things appear to be working out.  In fact so much so that they are now selling commercially, although in very, very limited quantities around Lancaster.

As such, I was able to procure a bottle of Submissive (American IPA) and Spelt (Farmhouse-Style Ale); each were reasonably priced for what were 1 pint 0.9 oz bottles.

First Submissive, it pours out an amber and cloudy ale with a stark white bubbly head the provided beautiful lacing throughout the drink.  An aroma of resin from the hops is mild but pleasant.  This IPA is not bombed out in piney and citrusy hops.  This was at first strange.  I figured prior to opening that I would be calling out a safe-word while the beer levied a heavy dose of punishing bitter hops, but I was wrong. I was expecting something along the lines of Palate Wrecker, Chinookie or Hopsickle.  This was different. It was subtle and relaxed.  It was not trying to get me to bend to its will, but was instead inviting and easy sipping.  This was a submissive beer.  It was not abrasive or astringent and at 6.5% ABV was about the subtle flavors.  Hints of pine, lemongrass and a long but not overly dry finish make this beer very easy drinking. This was a good beer.

Next came Spelt; a brew presumably made with the old world grain by the same name.  A few years ago Troegs brewed Scratch Beer #118 with spelt.  Scratch #118 was a Saison but was much more inviting and easy drinking.  What Fetish has done here is make a Farmhouse ale for people that like funky ales.  The beer poured bright golden hue with a furious bubbling head that quickly dissipated.  The nose is of yeast and some bread dough along with a slight farmhouse funk as is to be expected.  The spelt grain provides a wheat like flavor and adds a level of complexity to the ever so slightly sour, crisp lemon and faint pepperiness.  The finish is long and dry with earthy tones making this 7.22% ABV a real sipper. As the beer warms to room temperature it opens up and all the flavors embolden. Spelt gets the Bearcat Seal of Approval

So would I, a proclaimed bachelor when it comes to beers be willing to be tied down to Fetish Brewing for a year?  Yeah… I could submit to that idea.

Say Hello to ZerØday Brewing Company

10748057_1558880171014407_1391779354_a

Yesterday, provided the grand opening of ZerØday Brewing Company as the newest local brewery in Central PA. It was an opening with fanfare and well attended by the mayor and a Storm Trooper for the traditional ribbon cutting.

Over the past year I have attended three different opening days for local breweries (Columbia Kettle Works, Moo-Duck Brewing, and ZerØday) and without a doubt this one was the best on multiple levels.

I arrived well after the noon opening ceremonies but right into the thick of a very busy opening day.  While the crowd was heavy, the husband and wife proprietors, Brandalynn and Theo Armstrong, made sure everything ran with exceptional smoothness.

Upon arrival, I was able to quickly claim a corner spot near both the bar and the entrance.  I was very promptly greeted by a friendly bartender and plied with my first beer; no wait.  The service was impeccable.  It was hard to tell this was their opening day as the service and atmosphere made for an exceptional time free of any issues.  Theo Armstrong (the brewer) worked as bar back during my visit and made sure fresh clean glassware was always at the reach while his small but very busy team of bartenders served up his fine libations.  He also clearly took the time to talk with patrons and to politely accept congratulations from many happy customers.  Brandalynn worked the door greeting people warmly when she was not busily making sure everyone’s needs were met.

In the lead up to this opening I watched the Armstrongs via the modern wonders of social media put together their dream and I was a little worried about the volume of orange paint they were splashing about in the prospective taproom.  But the look of the place is fantastic.  The taproom is very nicely appointed and while very orange, is in no way off putting.  It has clean lines and is clearly well thought out all around.  Just a beautiful place to brew and drink a pint.

The beers were impressive even beyond first batch/smaller scale brewing standards.  ZerØday opened with five offerings on tap: Firstborn (Dry Stout), Cheap Date (American Blonde), Wits End (Belgian Inspired Witbier), Zeroday IPA – Ep.1, Dolce Vita (Chocolate and Hazelnut Sweet Stout).

My first beer was Dolce Vita.  After hearing via twitter about the soft opening this was the beer I knew I had to try.  It did not disappoint.  Served on nitro it has a silky smooth mouthfeel with a creamy luscious head built to last.  The aroma is like Nutella only somehow more inviting.  Then as it warms up the finish becomes longer lasting and deeper with a proper hazelnut and creamy chocolate that just makes this beer.  Very sweet, it would pair wonderfully with strawberries after a fine dinner.  If there is any room for improvement here… it’s that the beer was served way too cold. Dolce Vita shows off its flavors as it warms up. This beer was exceptional and is worthy of a visit.  Dolce Vita gets the Bearcat Seal of Approval.

As for the other offerings: Cheap Date goes down easy like she should and will be great for hot days when you are looking for a session beer.  Wits End was nicely constructed with a proper Belgian yeast and bitterness but lacked a peppery bite that I like in Witbier.  Zeroday IPA was clearly advertised as the first iteration. It was good but at 7.4% ABV, I was expecting more flavor and aroma from the hops and more body; just a tad thin. Firstborn was my least favorite of the offering but was still an exceptional stout.  When I say it was my least favorite its almost unfair because it was rock solid.

ZerØday’s beers were all good… and were frankly great when you consider this is the first time operating on the brand new brewing system.  I can’t emphasize that enough.  This would be excellent work for even a well-established small town brewery. The ceiling here is really high for future batches and I am sure they will not disappoint.

ZerØday Brewing Company gets the Bearcat Seal of Approval

Aprihop by Dogfish Head

Aprihop

A classic spring brew that I seek out ever year. With a newly deposited tax return and welcoming the vernal equinox I sprung for the rare move and purchased an entire case; I rarely buy a case of anything.

A very popular and widely available seasonal beer, it’s the fruit beer for people that don’t like fruit beer. It’s like a double IPA with a fruity nose and a balanced use of malts.

Opening the beer and pouring the rich amber libation into a glass releases the fragrance of apricots. It’s in abundance in the nose with some hint of the northwest hops which are heavily used.

A vigorous pour provides for a light tan to off white head that dissipates slowly and helps offer up a very pleasing nose. This beer smells great and is inviting.

The flavors are complex but not delicate. Hops are loaded up and offer a earthy grassiness. The apricots are here in a supporting role and they merge well by adding depth to the bitter hops and sweet malts. The fruit flavors are a faint tartness as the beer reaches room temperature and really opens up. The 7% ABV becomes evident then too. This is a big beer but not over powering. The finish is long and crisp with a bit of dryness.

The flavors are in balance and that makes it an exceptional beer. If you have not had Aprihop you should take the opportunity this year. You will find it on tap at bars with discerning selections or in 4 packs.

It gets the Bearcat Seal of Approval.