HBW and Poured in PA

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April 21 – 29, 2017

Once again as we approach late April, the return of Harrisburg Beer Week is coming upon us. This year marks the third iteration of the yearly celebration of craft beer in the Central PA area. As such, now provides a great opportunity to assess the current standing of craft beer in the (717) area code.

But first, within the Commonwealth, the past year has brought at least one challenge to local brewers in their changing relationship distributors due to legislation. Across the Nation, the total number of breweries has ballooned from 5,000 just a year ago to 5,300. This rapid expansion has been tempered by a very slight downturn in consumption across the industry. The number of guests at the table grew but the size of the pie remained the same.

Locally paints a far rosier picture. We have seen an impressive number of breweries open. There are more choices for local beer drinkers than ever before and the acceleration keeps going.

Since the last HBW, we have seen Collusion Tap Works, The Vegetable Hunter, Ever Grain, Tattered Flag, Desperate Times, Millworks, and Boneshire open their doors. We have seen the expansion of Appalachian Brewing Company and watched Troegs open its new and absolutely gorgeous Splinter Cellar. There are more bars and restaurants that are featuring local brewers; often in unique and interesting ways beyond just a tap handle. Finally, we saw a massive 12 brewer collaboration at Pizza Boy Brewing Co. that put out an outstanding beer and showcased the comradery here locally.

Looking at all of this, Harrisburg Beer Week is a great time to celebrate this now mature community within the Central PA area.

Over the course of nine days, craft beer devotees will be visiting multiple breweries, bars, and restaurants to sample unique brews or raising a pint of their favorite stalwart. We will hunt down rare firkins, tip back pints of what will be an eminently quaffable new (717) Collaboration Lager, and discuss or debate the virtues of this beer or that ale. All while raising a ton of money for a great cause, the Harrisburg River Rescue.

Much like brewers work hard to keep their lineups fresh, the Harrisburg Beer Week crew have worked hard to keep the three-year-old venture fresh with new gear and some new events or “old” events in new places. The Home Brewers Competition has been moved to the Broad Street Market in Midtown. While the ballpark was a fun and an interesting location, moving to the Market will inevitably create a more “Harrisburg” vibe. There are more events than ever, at more locations than ever. They even have a mini golf outing.

Just like craft beer in Central PA and Harrisburg Beer Week have grown, so has the craft industry throughout Pennsylvania. This provides an opportunity to tell a compelling story.

A compelling story is what GK Visual brought us in their documentary Brewed in the ‘Burg. As craft beer has expanded within the area so has their vision as they take on Poured in PA; a documentary meant to highlight craft beer throughout Pennsylvania. Making a project of this size requires money, a lot of it. That is why they have turned to crowd funding. But backing this project comes with perks; some really great ones. In fact, I have backed this project with my own money and if you love PA craft beer you should back it too.

It doesn’t take much to help out the Harrisburg River Rescue or Poured in PA. Both projects are about doing something positive around something we care about, great beer.

Post Script:

If I missed a brewery that opened since April of 2016, I am sorry but I think I caught everyone. If I missed one, let me know in the comments and I will edit accordingly.

I will have a list of my “Can’t Miss Events” next week so check back.

The new label for (717) Collaboration is amazing. It is so good. I really like it.

Also, I am happy to say that Friend of the Show, Tierney Pomone will be appearing on It’s Friday Somewhere this week to discuss all things Harrisburg Beer Week.

Finally, I apologize for the lack of posts here as of late. Between launching the new podcast and writing for October now I just have not had the chance to write much for my own blog. I hope to change that soon and expect that Bearcat on Beer will now be almost entirely my thoughts on what is happening locally.

Cheers!

Ep. 16 Beer in Review

In Episode 16 of the Operation Shutdown, I welcome back friends of the show Easy Pretzel, and Ed Grohl and we are joined by special guest Jeff Kupko. We discussed our favorite beers from 2016, Troegs Independent Brewing Company’s transparency, obligations to their customers, and their abysmal parking lot, as well as our thoughts after a shared happy hour at Tattered Flag in Middletown, and Ed’s love for everyone and everything.

Update: Tattered Flag reached out to me via direct message after listening to the episode and had the following to say: ” I just wanted to let you know that after I heard a complaint, that night, I did check it, I’ve actually been constantly checking that beer since before we put it on tap, nervous that the sourness was a sign of infection. I’ve had weekly tasting panels, and today after listening to you guys I had another professional brewer try it. We are not getting infection taste but your review and others on Untappd have my attention. It’s a 50/50 love hate in the brewery with that beer.”

Tony (the brewer) offered for us to come back and visit along with a sit down to discuss the beers. I have taken him up on the offer and invited him to appear on a future episode of the Operation Shutdown. I want to offer my appreciation for Tony reaching out and writing to me directly and to reiterate that our time TF was really great and if you go (and you should go) be sure to check out the double IPA.

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Easy Pretzel’s haul from an epic Smokey and the Bandit style run to the North East.

You can listen by clicking the bar immediately below or by subscribing on iTunes.

What We Were Drinking:

Resolute BBA – Brothers Craft Brewing
Rebel Raw – Boston Brewing
Pumpkinator Imperial Pumpkin Stout – Saint Arnold Brewing Company (Editor. Gross)
Java Cask – Victory Brewing Company
Kevin Kevin Sour IPA – The Veil Brewing Company
Recurrent – Wicked Weed Brewing Co.
Jai Alai IPA – Cigar City Brewing Co. 

Some of Our Favorite Beers From 2016:

It’s Complicated Being a Wizard DIPA – Burlington Beer Company
Helms Deep – Three Taverns Brewery
Juicy – Hill Farmstead
Even More Jesus – Evil Twin Brewing
Green – Tree House Brewing Company
Double Dry Hopped Galaxy Fort Point and Fort Point – Trillium
Gbop – New England Brewing
Coconut Porter – Broken Compass Brewing
Toof Toof Ache Ache – The Veil Brewing
Morning Wood – Funky Buddha Brewery
El Jefe – J. Wakefield Brewing
Liminal Moment – South County Brewing Company
Joose Juicy – Ever Grain Brewing Co.
Tickle Me Nelmo –  Mission Creek Brewing Co. (Editor: Extra points for 2nd coolest name ever.)
Excommunication – Max Lager’s
PNC – Firestone Walker
Oro Negro (BBA) – Jackie O’s
Barrel Aged Devil’s Abyss – Jagged Mountain Brewery
Nimble Giant and Barrel Aged Flying Mouflan – Troegs Independent Brewing
Tweak – Avery Brewing Co.
InTenSity BBA Barleywine – Hoppin Frog Brewery
Mexican Cake – Westbrook Brewing Co.
Simcoe Nerd – Sole Artisan Brewing
Lacto Calrissian Sour Double IPA – Pizza Boy Brewing Co. (Editor: Coolest Name Ever.)
Tropical Bitch – Flying Dog Brewery (Editor: Even thought its not good.)
Santé-16! – Brasserie Fantôme

Link Dump of Other Stuff We Discussed:

Frank Pepe’s Pizza
Sole’s Society
Bearcat’s Lacto Calrissian Post
Sour Murren River (Code Name Allison) Pizza Boy Brewing
LegenDairy IPA and Ep. 13 The LegenDairy Podcast
Michigan Maple Jesus – Evil Twin
Tattered Flag Brewery and Still Works
Beer Busters Podcast (Editor: It’s a very well done podcast.)
Steph and Richard Heffner from The Beer Busters Podcast
Tactical Nuclear Penguin – Brew Dog
Sink the Bismarck – Brew Dog
Tottenham Hotspur
Warwick Hotel (AKA – The Wick)

Be sure to stick around for the After Show where we discuss: Rogue One (No spoilers… I promise), The Pinstripe Bowl, Ed is drunk (again) and so am I.

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:

If the episode is a little choppy when you are listening I apologize. I had some technical difficulties during the recording but I think this episode turned out pretty well despite the issues. I am working on a solution to eliminate this in the future. (Podcasting is hard.)

A quick aside: The LegenDairy Milk Shake IPA by Pizza Boy Brewing discussed at length in Ep. 13 of the Podcast made a Top Ten list for 2016. Thank you to BreweriesInPA.com.

Thank you to everyone that appeared on the show over 2017: Fetish Brewing, Sara Bozich, Tierney Pomone, Ffej Herb, Chelsie Markel, Al Kominski, Bryan D. Roth, and Jeff Kupko.

But the biggest of appreciation is for you, the listeners. I can’t say how proud I am of the fact that the show grew from single digits to 200+ listeners in just 15 episodes. I am very thankful for each and everyone of you. I hope that you continue to listen through 2017 and beyond.

Also Easy, Ed, and I have some big plans in the works for the near and not so near future involving the podcast. I am very excited for what the future will bring and we can’t wait to share it all… when the time is right.

From Easy, Ed, and I we wish you health, happiness and good beers in the new year. Cheers!

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. 9 What’s a Ffej?

In Episode 9 of the Operation Shutdown, friend of the show Ed Grohl and I welcome special guest and beer bon vivant Ffej Herb from Troegs Independent Brewing.

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Ffej and his best friend Pleepleus

In this episode we discuss: Ffej’s travels far and wide for good beers, his love of goats and his stuff animal collection, the epic party that is Ffej of July, #PairsWellWithNow, Ffej’s band Solar Federation, and we take a look behind the curtain at Troegs; specifically the making of Nimble Giant and maybe some news of an upcoming release.

Many Thanks to Ffej for coming on the show. Be sure to read his very nice blog The Pour Travelers, follow him on Twitter (@FfejHerb) and check out upcoming shows from his plethora of bands.

Beers we Drank:

Wild Elf – Troegs Independent Brewing Co.
Murren River – Pizza Boy Brewing Co.
Single Hop Series: Azacca – Flying Dog Brewing Co.
Fort Street – Trillium Brewing Co.
Tears of the Entitled – Pizza Boy Brewing Co.
Impending Descent (2015) – Independent Brewing Co.

Show Notes/Links:
The Beer Mapping Project (A little spammy, consider using a content blocker.)
Goat races Slyfox
Goat Races in Middletown, PA
Goat screaming videos
Slayer’s Angel of Death with a Goat
Pleepleus and Drinking Made Easy
Three Sheets (TV Show)
Tears of the Entitled blog post
Barrel Aged Impending Descent
#PairsWellWithNow
Solar Federation (Ffej’s Rush Tribute Band)

Other beers and breweries mentioned (not a complete list):

Selin’s Grove Brewing
St. Boniface – Maple Porter, Padeia
Saucony Creek – Maple Mistress, Hop Suplex, Baloney Beer
Hidden River Brewing Company
Stickman Brews
Oakbrook Brewing Company

Be sure to stick around for the after show where Ffej gives us his thoughts on the Operation Shutdown’s Central PA Six-Pack and Ed is far too drunk for podcasting.

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. 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!

Would You Like To Take That In The Can?

No... I will have it right here
In the can? No, I think I will just have it right here.

For Episode 4 of The Operation Shutdown, I welcomed back friends of the show Easy Pretzel and Ed Grohl.

We also welcomed Bryan Roth. Calling Bryan a beer blogger seems trite when that is what I pretend to do. Bryan has the journalistic chops of working in newspapers. He writes for Beer Advocate and Good Beer Hunting, when not writing for his blog This Is Why I Am Drunk. You can follow him on Twitter at @BryanDRoth.

Bryan joined the show to discuss his recent post about canning and the media coverage canning receives.

It was a wide ranging conversation about everything from “Why canning is important or overrated? to “Are brewers using canning distribution to accelerate towards selling out?” In fact, the only thing about canning we did not discuss was this banned commercial from Bud Light Lime.

I hope you enjoy listening to this episode as much as we did making it.

Show notes:

Bryan D. Roth’s definitive work on canning. Please read this. We discuss it quite a bit.

Craft Beer’s Big Dilemma: Hold Out of Sell Out? 

Do Craft Breweries Fail?

Many beers were consumed during the making of this podcast including:
Pizza Boy Brewing Magic Under…Where? 
Pizza Boy Brewing Murren River
Pipeworks Brewing Co. Ninja vs. Unicorn
Half Acre Beer Company Vallejo
The Alchemist Focal Banger
Sole Artisan Ales Giant Juice Box
Oskar Blue Passion Fruit Pinner
Lone Ranger Brewing Addie’s Revenge

You can listen by clicking above or find it on iTunes. If you use iTunes please consider subscribing. If you enjoyed this podcast please consider leaving a review or sharing it with a friend.

Cheers!

Operation Shutdown Podcast Ep. 2: Wearing Uggs for Tom Brady

For episode two, I welcomed good friend of the show, Easy Pretzel, to The Operation Shutdown Podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @EasyPretzel.

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We discussed:

You can listen by clicking above or find it on iTunes. If you use iTunes please consider subscribing. If you enjoyed this podcast please consider leaving a review or sharing it with a friend.

Cheers!