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. 14: Bourbon Barrel Aged Splenda

In Episode 14 of the Operation Shutdown, I welcome back friends of the show Easy Pretzel,  and Ed Grohl to discuss bourbon barrel aged beers, Black Friday as a craft beer holiday, and Easy’s Splenda intake.

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Beers and Coffee We Drank:
A Night on Ponce by Three Taverns Brewery
#BOC Black Label by Voodoo Brewery
Starbucks with Nonfat Milk and Three Splenda

Link Dump:

Gentrification of Food
Chicken + Beer
Brew Gentlemen
Braddock, PA
Roundabout Brewery
Appalachian Brewing Company
Pittsburgh Toilet
Bourbon Barrel Aged Impending Descent by Troegs Independent Brewing
Shady McGrady’s
Shady’s Twitter Trolling
Hunger-n-Thirst
White Hill Cafe “Where Professionals Drink”
Don’t Drink Beer (The Internet’s Best Beer Blog)
Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon
Columbian Coffee Crystals
Hildy’s Tavern
Boneshire Brew Works (We will be getting Alan on in 2017… Right Alan?
The Wrecking Bar
The Porter Beer Bar
Max Lager’s

Be sure to stick around for the After Show: We discuss Easy and Ed’s recent trips to watch football games where Easy spends all is money on a 12 pack of beer and Ed drinks on the kindness of strangers and big corporate beer like a hobo.

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:

After 14 Episodes I am really starting to feel like the show has taken on a certain form. I do think that by and large the later episodes are an improvement over the prior ones. But as I prepare for 2017 and a whole new run of podcasts I would love to hear from you, the listeners. I would love  to know what you think of the show.

What can we do better?  What kind of guests would you like to see? What topics should Easy, Ed, and I pretend to have an authoritative voice about in the future? Which world leader would you think is most likely to end up on the show accidentally and do you think they actually like Fruit IPAs?

Hit me up in the comments below, via email BearcatOnBeer@gmail.com or Twitter @BearcatOnBeer.

Ep. 8 : The Central PA Six-Pack

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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

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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.

Juxtaposed Breweries Help Define Community Brewing

Even given the explosive growth of the craft beer industry it may seem strange to say that sleepy little Elizabethtown, PA has two breweries. Moo-Duck Brewery opened eight months ago and has a wonderful location a stone’s throw across from the beautiful train station. Then, this past week Cox Brewing Company opened its doors to the general public for growler fills.

A fellow beer drinker and I decided to visit the two during an especially rainy day. What we came to find is two completely different approaches to craft brewing.

Our first visit was to Cox Brewing Company. Cox is a veteran-owned brewery started by Nick Cox and Tim Kreider. Pulling up to the industrial park located brewery you immediately get a sense that these guys are passionate about their service to this country and brewing beer. The winks and nods to military service are everywhere but are not overwhelming and tastefully give it character.

Three beers were on tap: Liberty Lager, 82nd Amber Ale and CH-47 IPA. Talking with Nick and Tim about the beers showed they had put thought into their product and its place in the local market. Cox makes beer for people that may not have considered trying a craft beer. The three brews are as approachable as the men brewing them.

The Liberty Lager is a pale lager brewed for the guy that likes an ice cold Budweiser tallboy but wants something with a bit more bite, or to support a local business. The beer was dry and clean with a easy noble hops bitterness in the short finish.

82nd Amber Ale was the best of the three with a great color and a thick frothy head that sticks to the glass. Medium bodied with a proper malts and hops balance for the style. Tim put this beer as between a Yuengling and Sam Adams and that description nails it. The guy that regularly orders a “lager” at the bar would be wise to consider this one.

CH-47 IPA is a crisp ale with a easy drinking bitterness. CH-47 is not bombed out with hops but instead provides a gateway for the first time IPA drinker. Clean in the start with a slightly dry finish it would make for a nice compliment to a burger.

Brewing beer requires hard work and can be described as an investment of “blood, sweat, and tears.” For Nick and Tim this looks to be true. They are investing themselves in this business. In fact, Tim lost three fingers building a Jockey Box; due what I assume is to an accident with a saw.  Nick and Tim are committed and passionate about both beer and veteran service.

When asked if they plan to sell pints at the brewery they expressed a focus on continuing to to serve their bar and restaurant customers in the area. They do fill growlers and offer generous samples at the brewery making it well worth a visit.

Our next stop was Moo-Duck Brewery; a short five minute drive from Cox. I have visited Moo-Duck about a half-dozen times since their opening and after about eight months I feel like they are starting to hit a stride. The beers are coming into focus; as exemplified by their two seasonal beers now on tap.

Honey! Strawberry Blonde is brewed with 48 pounds of fresh local strawberries, carefully picked and cleaned by hand. By the pictures in the link you can see they are the tiny, bright red variety; these I personally favor. The only thing the beer missed was tiny seeds to pick out of your teeth. Crisp and refreshing but not overly sweet. Its soft pink hue and bubbly light body complimented the flavors well. Strawberry in the nose and slightly tart and sweet in the finish. It was wonderful and the perfect example of what is possible with local seasonal brewing. It is highly recommended.

The last beer of the day was Big Sit Summer Ale, another fruit beer made with lemon and orange peel and dosed with orange blossom honey. The citrus tones are evident in the nose and the honey comes across nicely in finish. Light and refreshing with lemon and orange coming though as equals playing well together. Eminently drinkable this is a great beer to enjoy on your back porch.

Kristen Brubaker was tending bar and again greeted me with a warm welcoming approach and was quick with a refill of my glass. Talking with her that day and with Mike previously reveals the different approach this couple has compared to their new neighbors. Mike (the brewer) and Kristen are former environmental educators. This permeates their approach to both the brewing and the business. These beers and the food they offer are based on what is local and fresh and are just outside the mainstream.

These two breweries are juxtaposed in many ways that provides a fascinating look at the different approaches available within this booming industry. Cox Brewing Company and Moo-Duck Brewery are servicing the same community in different ways; both in brewing style and business plan.

While Cox is sticking to traditional styles, Moo-Duck is trying daring variations on the classics. Cox is servicing local restaurants and only recently started selling growlers. Moo-Duck is slinging the beer at their own bar and only going into restaurants and bars cautiously; as they pointed out in a recent Beer Busters podcast.

But both are clearly committed to the community. Cox is partnered with veteran charities that they support and are doing good by those that served. Moo-Duck partners monthly with a local charity to offer a “charity brew” providing 50 cents from each pint sold.

Moo-Duck and Cox are both an example of what community brewing is capable of providing.  Breweries historically had been and should be part of the community they service.  Seeing this develop in Elizabethtown is adding to the quality of the community.  “Drink local” is not just a slogan. Drinking local beer is good for the economy and for the industry. So if you are in or near western Lancaster county or just passing through… give these two a try.

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.

CSA Beer > CSA Arugula

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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.