Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Solution to Declining Private University Enrollment

There's one solution I could think of to stop the declining enrollment at private universities: school-sponsored beer bash fridays! Who are they kidding? The main reasons kids go to these schools are the beer parties. What better way to attract the best and brightest than for the school to sponsor safe drinking parties?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

That's one song in the bank. Next Song. Next!

Preparations are underway for my next brew. Yet another I.P.A. variation. This time with Simcoe®, and Cascade hops. I'm shooting from the hip on this one aiming for the extremities of conscious pleasure. Stay tuned.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Krakowska & Beer

I have been blessed with a love of beer and sausage, a finer pair there may not be.

Have you ever tried Krakowska? I'm sure you've tried Kielbasa, but Krakowska?

Krakowska is pronounced (roughly) krah-KAHV-ska and is a type of Polish sausage famously from Krakow, Poland. My grandfather was from Krakow so it has special meaning for me. It has traditionally been served on Easter morning but it seems it is growing in favor for Christmas feasts, as well as more generally for cold-cut trays.

It is made of very lean pork and has a ham-like constitution. The difference is that it's always smoked and stuffed in a large casing (three inch) and it has the greatest, tastiest spices you can imagine. You can warm it or more usually you enjoy it cold as it's already cooked. I recently picked up three pieces for Christmas, at Greenview Meats in West Hazleton.

It goes perfectly well with an I.P.A. where the garlic and peppery flavors mesh well with the punchy hop expression.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Tavern Politics

I'm in the midst of reading and watching John Adams. In short, this is a biography by David McCullough documenting the life of our 1st vice president and 2nd president, with emphasis on the tumultuous times surrounding our fight for independence from England. John Adams was much more and played a much larger role than just his executive branch duties and it's all on magnificent display here. Many of you may have already seen the miniseries, but I'm something of a Luddite and have no cable or satellite television, so for me it's a revelation. I highly recommend this if you're at all interested in being the proverbial fly on the wall (watch and listen and you'll know what I mean), as the founding of our great nation is brought to life and shows what really went on during those times.

What strikes me about the story is the ability of men of politics to have civil discourse over pints of beer in a tavern. Story in fact, is by no means fictional (and that's the beauty of this documentary), but historical fact gleaned from letters written and diary entries made, by the participants. Politics, in thinking just now, is also perhaps not the correct word, as political parties had not yet even been created until after the Declaration of Independence had been signed! As I was saying, the tavern served as a place where men, often of differing opinions, could discuss their views in a less formal setting than Constitution Hall. The places were frequented in the evening after federal work for the day was over, much the same as we go to our neighborhood tavern today after work. The tempering effect of beer was absolutely essential, in my opinion, to the openness in which ideas and views were put forth. Keen listening, that lost sense, was practiced widely. Speaking in civil tone, not elevated screeching, in complete and grammatically correct sentences, was the order of the evening. Perhaps, courageousness too, was a beneficial side-effect of the beer: not every man feeling able to put forth a hard view without it. Trial balloons or ideas were floated here first, too, before presentation to the assembly in Constitution Hall. All in all, a very worth-while endeavor, drinking beer and forming a new government of and for men! Wouldn't you say?

Today, some sharing of ideas and views still takes place in taverns around this great country of ours. I wonder though, how persuasive any of it is among its participants. I have heard it said (I don't know who said it but they may be right), that we've (we being US citizens), by and large, all made up our minds about everything and there's very little persuasion or mind-changing, taking place anymore. Is it because we're all too educated and know we're right about everything? Perhaps we've lost the ability to actively listen and thoughtfully analyze an oral argument, enough to discount and expose logical flaws and/or the various duplicitous ploys of argument like red herrings, straw men, slippery slope fallacies, and the such. Maybe the world has just gotten two darned complicated with very little right and wrong, yes or no, absolute conclusions; we live in a world unlike that of 231 years ago, a world that is made up of an infinite number of shades of gray, making judging the merits of an idea unmanageable. Too much data! Or maybe the real fault lies with the division created by having to choose a side (political party), that in itself creating an atmosphere of unreasonableness and confrontation. Us versus Them, an almost instinctual nature to pick sides and fight to the death regardless of merit.

I don't know who said it, but paraphrased: this democracy will only survive if the people electing their leaders are educated, read, and involved in the process. Each and every one of us. There are no exceptions to my knowledge.

So the next time, you're in a tavern and someone starts preaching tavern politics from his chair, don't immediately discount him. Engage him in some discourse to understand and explore his point of view. He probably has something meaningful to say.

If you're interested in learning more about this subject, try to find a copy of Rum Punch and Revolution: Taverngoing & Public Life in Eighteenth-Century Philadelphia by Peter Thompson (Univ. Of Pa. Press, 1998).

Saturday, December 20, 2008

2008 Holiday Beer Meister Watch

Anxious minds have been asking: Tazio, (burp) what's in the beer meister for the holidays?

Well, I was feeling it on Saturday so I took a visit down to my friendly, local beer distributor professional to see what was in the cold storage locker. Well, just seeing what's there is half the fun as you well know, but the other half is picking this year's choicest of the choice.

I immediately spotted the Victory Hop Devil plotting someones demise, and literally wrestled the little satanic bastard to the floor. Tazio the Vanquisher reigns supreme, victorious over the Hop Devil!

I kept looking and passed over a sequence of silver Weyerbacher missiles: Blithering Idiot (too strong), Hop Infusion (great, but I already have Hop Devil), Quad. Hmmmm....

I settled on the Quad which is a Quadruple Abbey-Style Dark Ale, not realizing the strength that builds beyond those cloistered abbey walls.

Both beers are excellent. The Hop Devil is a very, and I say very with the utmost sincerity, drinkable I.P.A. that has it all: beautiful head, a sprightly nose, and just enough oomph on the palate to let you know what awaits you if you've been a bad boy. The Quad is a delight but I have no idea how I'm going to drink five gallons of this over the next six months! Wait. .8 gallons a month which is two pints a week. Ok, I can do it. But really, this one has almost no alcohol flavor to speak of but boy does it pack a punch. There is a distinct banana and clove-flavor present which always portends to greatness. There was very little head from this baby--the less the better in this case. The Quad is a sipping beer that should age well. Of course, me and friends and relatives won't really be letting this one age for very long. Come on over and enjoy it while it's here!

I had one empty to return so the damage was mitigated somewhat.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Interesting Beer Concept--Beer Table

Here's an enterprising duo's neat pub concept: serving a small selection of special and rare beers paired with homemade foods and snacks. And they'll also do the same for you in your home for a informal party or more formal tasting. I don't know if they'll come all the way from Brooklyn to NEPA but it's worth a try. Or, if you're ever in Park Slope Brooklyn, stop in and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Where does outdated beer end up?

I was wondering if there's a place where old beers are taken when they become outdated. Is there a remand tank somewhere that gets filled and periodically the distributor (or used oil recycler) comes by and unceremoniously empties it and takes it back to the brewery to be recycled? Does the brewer have to pay back the distributor for unsold and outdated beer--sort of like funeral expenses? Or do these beers die an ignominious death poured down a sewer drain somewhere in the dead of night? Or do they all eventually find homes where they live out their last days in peace?

Many beers don't even have a date on them. Who watches over and cares for these guys to make sure that they're taken care of when they reach senility? I imagine some care, but others? I don't know about you but I've seen the dusty, neglected, case or ten lurking in the dark corners...

Now, not all beer would be subject to this sort of forced retirement. For example, a really great beer like a Chimay or a Blithering Idiot may stay on the shelf for years, much like a tenured university professor can stay as long as he can make it to a faculty meeting. But other ales, lagers and such, the more plebeian varieties if you will, what happens to them? You know, the ones that like human beings, start the long, slow, and sometimes painful process of death the day they're born.

I can't ever remember seeing a display of marked-down beer that was approaching the end of it's useful life. Or perhaps I have but the disty hasn't drawn attention to it.

I suspect that, to some, beer is always useful no matter how old it is--like a father who can always be counted out to dole out sage advice to his children who drink it all in. And some times spit it back out.

And imagine if people were marked-down upon reaching that certain age... Actually, in a way, this happens already: in the software development game, after about 45, except in rare cases, the voluminous pay raises give way to not-quite-the-rate-of-inflation humiliating kicks in the crotch...

What am I trying to say here? Well in one oft-quoted phrase: Respect Beer! Buy and try new beers, adopt them if you have to, but don't let'em go unappreciated and end up in the Chesapeake!


It has occured to me that jukeboxes are of two varieties these days: the new ones that pretty much have everything via the Internet, and the old-fashioned ones that have local music (usually CDs), with the selections chosen by the bar owner. It's probably split 60-40 or 70-30 these days.

I don't know about you, but sometimes when faced with an overwhelming number of choices, too many becomes a bad thing and the former may be guilty of that. The personality of the pub owner can shine through in the later and sometimes this is a good thing as it helps to create a certain vibe. I'm thinking the Grassroots Tavern in the East Village (old-fashioned) and how the choices were local, iconic, legendary bands and that music fit the scene. No one ever calls this censorship, but it is a little bit, isn't it? But on the other hand, if you consider the jukebox as aural artwork and the bar owner gets to select how his place is decorated, shouldn't he be allowed to pick and choose what he wants?

So what do you think? Do you want to have 500,000 songs to choose from in every possible genre or would you like something more insightfully chosen by the bar owner?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Nobody Rules these Taps But Me, The Atomic Punk!

I am a victim of the science age, the Simcoe® hops, whoa, yeah...

Thank heavens for genetic engineering.

Sped down to One Guy Brewing this afternoon to have a taster of the experiential Dunkel Weizen and the Atomic Punk I.P.A. just released. One Guy is a great brewer of German beers, as evidenced by the Seasons Wheatings, the Peach Wheat, Oktoberfest, et al, but with the Atomic Punk I.P.A. he shows he can kick-hop with the best of Victory, Weyerbacher, Troegs, Dogfish and the like.

This would be considered an American I.P.A. I could discern two of the hops varieties: Simcoe and Cascade. Is the bitterness due to the Amarillo hops? Anyway, it comes in at a nice 6.8% ABV which is just right in my book for a regular I.P.A. Very quaffable, indeed.

The Dunkel Weizen reminds me of root beer soda and in the fine German tradition, is a malty taste treat that goes down easy.

Ended up coming home with a few growlers of each. I'm hoping this becomes a regular.

Simcoe is a registered trademark of Select Botanicals Group LLC.

Lyrics to the discredit of Van Halen

Another Bar Signage Shot

Here's another one of the bar signage I received in barter for beer.

Dog Chews on Man for 120 Minutes -- Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA

If you've never tried this beer you should, just to see what's possible with hops, grain, yeast and water...It is thick and sweet like honey and has a pointed smell and taste of alcohol, but still has a dog bite of hop. No ABV is mentioned on the label but based on reports of me barking like a dog, it's strong. This is a sipping beer not a quaffing beer. Overall I like it, but for drinking multiples thereof, I prefer the 90 minute IPA which is one of my favorite beers.

This bottle was a trade from J--I think I traded four bottles of home brew. I've been cellaring this one for going on six months.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Pszenica Piwo ciężarówka

As you may remember, we've been living in the 19th century for a while, virtually if not in reality, making do with the Pszenica Piwo wagon banner. If you look up there, ^, you can see we've taken the great leap into the 20th century. I guess you could say that we're really cook'n with piwo now! Thanks JohnP for the great banner!

Will Barter for Beer

I just bartered beer for a fantastic copper sign for my bar. The bar isn't finished (are they ever?) and it's not hung and only a piece of it's showing here, but I think you'll get an idea. It's about 24 inches wide, protrudes perhaps six inches, and is about eight inches high. It's lighted from the back (does not require 120v) and glows around the edges. I'll try to get some better pictures , but what do you think, was it a great deal or what? And, I have a few bottles of Christmas cheer available to barter....any offers?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Feats of German Beer Engineering

Leave it up to the German beer engineers to come up with an ingenious party keg valve system. Check out the air vent on top to facilitate optimum flowrates and the spigot that has a ribbed stem for party-strength, the rubber o-ring for air-tight sealing, and the fixture for locking the tap in the closed position with your MasterLock®. I can personally vouch that even after repeated use, it doesn't drip and waste even a single drop!

Japanese Space Beer Out of This World

It took rocket science to come up with this, but I have to ask: can this be considered a low-gravity beer?

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Chawbacon Drowns in Brooklyn but Survives

The 2nd Annual Holiday Pub Crawl, trashing Brooklyn this year, took place Friday under a blue sky enlivened by a sun streaming yellow photons like a drunk taking a piss.

We started at Penn Station and the first transit of the day was via the C train to the first stop in Brooklyn, High Street, near the Brooklyn Bridge, in a neighborhood called Brooklyn Heights. Brooklyn Heights is a residential area that extends along and overlooks the East River. Heights is a bit of a misnomer as the elevation may in fact be less than 100 feet above the river level, but high it is relative to the nearby topography. A short walk through the upscale neighborhood brought us to near the river's edge with the vista of Manhattan opening before us to the west beyond the sparkling, calm, East River, actively being plied by pleasure and business watercraft. From that point, it was a 20 minute stroll south along the Brooklyn Promenade above the deserted waterfront wielding piers jutting out into the river in the direction of Manhattan. Along the walkway, there are bas-relief brass plaques inlaid into the paverstone field, and other objects d'art including metallic wall-hangings, showing the history of the waterfront area and Manhattan in the distance. Sadly, one showed the skyline to the West, oriented from the viewers perspective, with the twin towers of the World Trade Center visible, yet in reality sorely missing.

From there, it was a short walk to Atlantic Avenue which is one of the main arteries into downtown Brooklyn, to the first stop of the day for a Anchor Liberty Ale at The Waterfront Ale House visible in the photo to the right. Disregard Pete's Ale House on the awning as Pete was a former owner who reportedly had to give the place up under extreme beer duress--this truly is the Waterfront Ale House--and from the perspective of the photo if you turned around 120 degrees--but not too quickly if you've had a few--you would indeed see the waterfront to the west. The Liberty Ale went down mighty fine and was fitting for the Liberty we enjoy, able to crawl from bar to bar, and drown in a sea of beer if we care to. My first choice had been a local--Chelsea Hop Angel from the cask, but alas the casketh had runneth under and dry.

This was a crawl after all, so after downing our brews we left and ambled further southeast on Atlantic to our second stop at a delightful little establishment called The Brazen Head where I had Heartland Summer Vice , from the cask. So this was my local brew of the day! Yippee! If you've done the tourist thing around Manhattan you probably know the Heartland Brewery chain of restaurants around the city--Empire State Building, South Street Seaport being two locations. Well, they, along with a bunch of NYC restaurants and pubs, in fact have their beers contract brewed by the Greenpoint Beer Works of Brooklyn. The Summer Vice was a light summer-time wheat beer that went down easier than the first beer--there is nothing like a good beer to provide lubrication for the second!

Next stop was the Brooklyn Brewery, north of Brooklyn Heights in the Williamsburg section. However to get there not knowing the surface bus routes, we opted to backtrack into the city on the C, then switch trains to the L. After getting off in Williamsburg at the Bedford Ave. station, I was immediately struck by the vibe of this section of the city--young, artistic, and fun-loving. Evidently earlier this century many young artists fled here from Manhattan after they were priced out of housing. In any case, the streets were teeming as we walked over to Brewers Row, but alas the brewery was closed until later in the evening. Bummer!

After the disappointment of the Brooklyn Brewery not being open we decided--on the fly--to stumble into Mugs Ale House which we had passed on the way to the brewery along Bedford Avenue. Now I'm here to tell you that this was easily the best beer bar of the ones we had visited so far. There were at least 24 very high quality import and domestic craft ales on tap and it was very hard to decided on a beer. Bing! IPA Time! Bing! Do you have a double IPA? Well, no not right now...but we do have an Imperial IPA...Lagunitas Sonoma Farmhouse Hop Stoopid. Ummmm. What was that again? Hop Stoopid! Ok. I'll have one of them. No make it two! Hey Stupid! What??? Hop Stoopid is a excellent IPA with a great bitter and fruity balance. The hops are fantastic if you're into that sort of thing as no doubt you realize I am. FYI: This place has an excellent jukebox, and Friday it was pounding out all sorts of hard-rock, metal, and punk and I contributed to the mayhem with some Dio--Rainbow in the Dark and the Stooges Search and Destroy. Just to make things interesting... While there we met C who's setting up an interesting conceptual rendering of a bowling alley/rock club called Brooklyn Bowl. It's close to opening up next to the Brooklyn Brewery and will pair that tasty combination of rock music and bowling. Edgy yet unpretentious. Good Luck C! We wish you well.

Extra Credit: Red Hook ESB, nightcap at the Grassroots Tavern, St. Mark's Place, East Village. Good selection of drafts--good jukebox with local favorites (New York Dolls, Richard Hell et al)--efficient barkeeps. Bartop looks like an old piece of driftwood.

Hits: Mugs Ale House

Close calls: Barcade (80s style arcade with beer bar), Williamsburg; Brooklyn Brewery, Williamsburg. Next time.

Another fantastic day in the city exploring new places, enjoying beer, and making new and reconnecting with old friends.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

2008 Christmas Brew Update

The 2008 Christmas brew has been safely bottled and is being conditioned under the most controlled of laboratory environments. (Down in the basement where the wood stove keeps it a constant 70 degrees.) A few more days and it will be into the fridge to take the edge off for a few weeks. Yippee!

Hey Tazio what's in the Beer Meister?

Nothing. I was just finished by the sixtel of Weyerbacher Hops Infusion (supah!) and need to select two warming replacements to carry me through the bleak next three months. I'm thinking some other Weyerbacher and something different. Hmmmmm

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Where are the IPAs?

As part of my doctoral dissertation on the popularity of various beer styles, I thought I would try to quantify what people are drinking. I just checked out newcomer Kclingers tap list over at mybeerbuzz.com and what struck me was the great ratio of Pale Ales (India, too) to everything else: a full one out of four of the taps!

But when I checked a bunch of fine, local NEPA beer bars, the ratio is more like one in six or worse.

Not that I'm complaining mind you, all the NEPA beer places have great beers and good times, but it would be nice, imho, to see a few more IPAs on tap. But, it just may be that NEPA is more of a Stout/Porter area and I'm certain the taps are primed with what people want the most of... so it makes sense in that respect...

I think I'll go and sip on a Dogfish Head and contemplate this revolting development.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

2nd Annual New York Holiday Pub Crawl

This year we'll be trashing Brooklyn the Friday after Thanksgiving for the 2nd Annual NY Holiday Pub Crawl. Meeting at Penn Station, bottom of main stairway, at 1 p.m. Roit!

Bottling the Christmas Brew

Bottled yesterday. My final gravity reading was about 1.022 which seems a bit high. However, fermentation was complete as it was at this level for two days straight . Here's what my dry (now wet) hops looked like when I fished them out of the drink. Now, on to bottle conditioning, aging, and labeling.

Backyard AleHouse Open for Business!

S drugged me into taking her to see Twilight yesterday afternoon at the Cinemark 20 in Moosic. Surprisingly, it was better than I expected (or was it the drugs?). I have never read any of the series by Stephanie Meyer, but S informed me that it was faithful to the first book and the characters were as she had imagined them. The soundtrack was pretty good, consisting mainly of what I quess would be called these days modern rock as well as some spare acoustic guitar pieces. The camera-work was excellent and at least from my dazed perspective, really captured that dreamy, blossoming love state-of-mind. I was not surprised that there was not an empty seat in the house.

For afterwards, the plan was to get into Scranton to check out the Backyard AleHouse which had had its grand opening the day before, continuing into Saturday.

We easily found the place on Linden street just north of the courthouse, right next to Tink's and we were able to park right on the street up the block a few addresesses. If you go later than when we went (3-ish), you won't be this lucky!

This new establishment had been another bar/club and was completely gutted and redone for its reemergence. Inside, a long ell-shaped bar stretches down the left-side and length of the taproom, maybe 35 feet long and with perhaps 18 bar stools. To the right is a table area containing all high tables: six or eight twofers and the same number of fourfers. The room is perhaps 50 by 22. The bar itself is beautiful as new bars are want to be (at least for now) with an natural oak Chicago bar rail and clear epoxy over ruby-red wooden planks of what appeared to be walnut. Behind the bar streches a similarly constructed back-bar, and a reach-in bottle cooler. Reaching up the to the high ceiling behind the bar were a walnut bookshelf (closest to the street) hung on the wall, a nice similarly framed mirror about 10 feet long with the Backyard Alehouse logo etched on it, and another smaller bookcase with a display of beeriana. The stools at the bar and in the seating area were all of similar construction, with red leather seats and spindle backs. Three largescreen flat panel screens hung on the wall around the room: a huge 62" above the mirror, a 50"er at the south end of the back-bar and another 50"er on the north wall of the bar. A nice electronic jukebox hung on the same north wall but was mute during our visit. The ceiling is divided into sections delineated by gold cove millwork, giving a coffered ceiling effect. The field of the ceiling is a dark blue. The main spine of the structure carrying the overhead load extends lengthwise down approximately the center of the taproom and is supported by paneled columns with dark blue trim and light blue inner panels. An unusual feature is cellar stairs back behind the bar. Cask ale down there, you think?

A very nice beer menu was presented when we came in and sat down at the bar and it had a few tasty draft selections (I think 12 taps total) and a very nice selection of bottles. My appetite for beer had been thirsted a few days earlier when I read over at mybeerbuzz that they'd be having the Sierra Celebration Ale on draft, so that became my easiest first choice as a a great way to celebrate a new alehouse opening in NEPA. The menu also listed a nice selection of food items, but the kitchen was not yet opened fully for service and we were informed by the barkeep B, that it would only be a short time until it was ready. The Celebration Ale was fresh as fresh can be, tasted great, and went down mighty easy. S chose a smooth Allagash White Belgian wheat beer from the bottle menu which she liked enough to have again for her second. She surprises me all the time by her burgeoning beer palate! My own choice for a 2nd was Mad Elf in keeping with the holidays/celebratory season fast approaching. This was the first time I ever had this, having had enough of everyone else rave, over and over, again and again, about how great this beer is. I was surprised a little by the fact that I could not get a head on my pour but maybe this is normal for this beer. The cherry taste is unmistakable as are the spices and perhaps clove. It reminds me a little of One Guy Brewing's Seasons Wheatings although this baby packed a much stronger punch coming in north of 11%. I liked it, but I think I'm more of a pale-ale/stout/bock drinker and the spicy beers I haven't yet warmed to. Or maybe I'm just gonna have to try it again...for scientific purposes this time.

When we left there were maybe 20 revelers inside having a great time. Oh, the Backyard in their name is a reference to the backyard which will be opening in the spring. I didn't see it but there's a way past the restrooms in the back, out to a deck where there'll be Adirondack chairs, tables and such, so that the fun can go out-of-doors.

We felt welcome here and can see a definite dedication to good beer. As a matter of fact, B, the barkeep told us that they're willing to take suggestions for beers they should bring in! We didn't suggest anything, but will the next time we visit when we're in town again.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Beer Solutions

Stopped in quickly at Beer Solutions tonight to pick up some sanitizer for bottling the `old Yuletide Brew tomorrow, and had a chance to chat a little with Curt.

The sign limiting hops purchases only with malt purchases has been taken down! When I mentioned this, he said yeah, things are easing up now, so the limitations are history. That's good news as he informed me that Simcoe® hops will be coming in shortly--this year's crop--and I intend to be one of the first in line when they do.

On the way out, I noticed a cool new get-yer-whistle-wet-to-home-brew kit, for $6.99. It comes in a 2 liter plastic soda bottle and it contains the whole kit and kaboodle for doing a small batch of beer. The bottle has water, and hopped malt syrup already mixed and on the cap is a small yeast tablet. All you gotta do is, open the bottle, pop the yeast tablet in, seal it back up, and two weeks later, voila, fresh home-brewed beer! There are three varieties: A Red Lager, and pilsner, and something else. He said that some winemakers had been in and wanted to give brewing a try but didn't want to do a whole 5 gal. batch. If you ask me this is a perfect stocking stuffer for someone who's always wondered what brewing's all about!

Simcoe is a registered trademark of Select Botanicals Group LLC.

Bar Stool Sources?

Does anyone know of a good source of bar stools? I'm looking for stools that are 31 to 32 inches from floor to seat. This is slightly higher than standard bar stool height.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Snap Shots

Introducing Snap Shots from Snap.com
I just installed a nice little tool on this site called Snap Shots that enhances links with visual previews of the destination site, interactive excerpts of Wikipedia articles, MySpace profiles, IMDb profiles and Amazon products, display inline videos, RSS, MP3s, photos, stock charts and more.

Sometimes Snap Shots bring you the information you need, without your having to leave the site, while other times it lets you "look ahead," before deciding if you want to follow a link or not.

Should you decide this is not for you, just click the Options icon in the upper right corner of the Snap Shot and opt-out.

Fun in New York

S and I enjoyed this past weekend in NYC, dodging buses, cabs, rickshaws, tornadoes, and sheets of rain, celebrating her birthday, and where I once again, orchestrated the satisfaction of her every whim and pleasure.

We drove in Saturday morning and luckily for us were able to check in early at the W Hotel - Times Square. Now there are a number of W Hotels in NYC, but all the others seemed too far a walk from the Theater district, so I picked this one for it's proximity. Upon pushing through the revolving doors one enters a serene vestibule with water flowing, gurgling, burbling, and streaming above the ceiling and along the walls (behind glass)--a 180 degree swerve away from Times Square--transporting you into a world in which time shimmers to a halt and pleasure is eternal. Inside the vestibule, fresh, fragrant flowers soften the room's modernity and directly in front of you are three elevators which bring you to the Living Room on the 7th floor. Stepping out of the elevator and to the left is the concierge and reservations desk and directly in front and to the right is the living room. A living room is how it's set up with a straight bar along the far wall and unique circular beige leather sectional sofas arranged before it for socializing. Unique seating squares also dot the space each overhung by a square lighting tube roughly three feet on a side, hanging down from the ceiling, almost to the seats, and with a warm glow emanating from the glass. Directly below the square tubes, soft scented candles flickered as if to say: Hey. This is the Living Room. Come on in, have a drink, relax, and let's get to know each other! (The lighting theme is carried into the elevators as well tracing their ceilings.) We quickly checked in and dropped our stuff and headed back out.

We skipped back to the theater on 45th st., passing Mr. Cruise's worst nightmare along the way, waited on queue, went inside, pitted at the restrooms and finally settled into our seats for a performance of Avenue Q. An adults-only, not-quite-officially-sanctioned take on Sesame St. with real actors singing, talking and working the puppets, all at the same time! Some of the puppets were even worked by two of the performers. Oh. These are not puppets in the normal sense with strings worked from above, but more like ventriloquist dummies held at chest height. There were characters that seemed to be analogous to characters on Sesame, Bert and Ernie come to mind, as well as two new charcters, the Bad Idea Bears, who's idea of a bad idea is a six-pack, no make that a case of beer! At various points during the performance, two large flat-screens to the left and right of the stage were used as segue-ways showing cute graphics and such. I'm here to tell you that the dialog and lyrics are extremely clever and punny, the themes are contemporary: like love, commitment, and Internet porn, the music is, ah, so-so. The singing is top-notch, and the puppeteering is excellent. But being one who needs to have good music accompany a Broadway show, I wasn't that thrilled by it all. S enjoyed it though, for its cleverness and unique way of storytelling, so whim one was achieved. Check!

Our plan for after the show was to find someplace to eat dinner. Seeing how I have told S stories about Turkey (the country) for the longest time--and had always wanted to introduce her to Turkish cuisine, I decided to lead her by the nos...I mean hand, as we walked over to the East side of mid-town for dinner.

We awoke on Sunday, as is want to happen, to a totally different world weather-wise--instead of mid-60s and partly sunny, we awoke to overcast and blustery conditions with temperatures in the mid-40s, so coffee and tea tasted really good when we went out to Times Square. Directly in front of the hotel was a new Tckts kiosk located in the northern end of the square with a bleacher-like, pentahedron structure above it. Now bleachers is way too mundane a description for this structure, and bleachers they function as, but with wider seating area and shallower steps up. Perhaps 1000 people could seat themselves or stand on them. We walked over and went up the steps to the top where we met a Times Square Safety Officer Will. When asked he told us the whole story of the structure and the improvements to the square. These bleachers are made of a tempered red crystal from Germany that even if wet or icy can still be walked upon safely. The edges of the crystal are set in stainless steel channels. At night, the structure is lighted from below and emits a surreal glow. The view looking downtown from the structure is one that I've not had before as the elevation gives perspective to the whole space. In front of the structure, still in the center of the square, is a pedestrian area with low cafe tables and chairs--perhaps 100. So what was once a standing-only area, is now one where you can linger and enjoy the sites, day or night.

We checked out of the hotel and drove off down 9th avenue in search of a place called Lombardi's, claiming to be the oldest pizzeria in the U.S. We found it easily on Spring Street between Mott and Mulberry, but finding a parking spot was more difficult. After about 1/2 hour of trolling we found a spot a full 12 inches wider than our car, and I was able to slip that baby in like a jockey slips his horse along the rail. Thin crust: perfectly toasted and superb; fresh Mozzarella: flavorful, soft, and puddling on top; sauce: real fresh tomato taste, not from a can or overly salty or spiced. With the pizza we selected that wonderful drink, Sangria, home-made, just like the pizza. It arrived with an 1/8 of an orange hung on the lip of the glass and it was the perfect compliment to the pizza.

After lunch we thought we'd try to find the Cloisters as neither of us had ever been there. I knew that the FDR (alternately referred to as the East River Drive which turns into the Harlem River Drive farther north) would take us in the general direction, and sure enough we were able to follow signs onto and off-of 95 right to the museum. My only memories of the Cloisters was from the Clint Eastwood movie Coogan's Bluff that had some scenes filmed there. Being on an elevated portion of Manhattan, just above the river and within view of the George Washington Bridge to the southwest, the wind was howling like a banshee when we arrived and we quickly made our way from the west side to the main entrance. In a nut-shell the Cloister is a castle or abbey-like complex with multiple inner gardens surrounded by roofed corridors on all four sides (a cloister) and inside displaying artwork with a focus on the Medieval period of around 1000 to 1500 A.D. There are many fine examples of stained glass, religious artifacts like chalice cups (aka Pimp Chalices), reliquaries, and the such, tapestries, sculpture, furniture, and architectural elements of the period. We spent a good two hours there simply enjoying the quiet aspects of the place and were able to spend quality time in all the areas in that amount of time.

Sip Sak and a trip down Efes Lane

Sip Sak is located on 2nd avenue between 49th and 50th and is owned and operated by Bir Orhan Yegan. We came in and were quickly seated at a table along the wall mid-way down the narrow restaurant next to an ell-shaped bar. When the waitress came over, I asked if they had any Efes Pilsen in the house, which they did, so I ordered: Bir Efes bira, lutfen. It arrived at precisely the right temperature, but in a typical 12 oz. lager bottle--not the low, squat bottle I remember the last time I quaffed Efes, 27 years ago...But, notwithstanding my disappointment upon receiving the potato-masher bottle, it was as great as it was then--and same as it ever was. One quickly turned to Iki bira. And so it went.

I wanted S to try all the dishes I remembered so we started with a chopped salad appetizer, Coban Salata, consisting of finely chopped tomato, onion, cucumber, pepper and lemon olive oil. The cucumber nicely balances the acidity of the tomato and pepper give it that twist that plays Mozart on your tongue: Superb! We followed that with Turkish Pizza that basically an ultra-thin crusted red-pizza with ground lamb, and spices. Pretty much exactly how I remember it and faithful to the original recipe. For our main courses, S ordered the Musakka and I ordered a special which was a slab of grilled lamb, laid upon a soft bed of grilled pita, with onions and basil on the side, along with a hot green pepper and a roasted tomato atop it all. The presentation was gorgeous, the lamb was buttery-smooth and perfectly cooked, and the melding of ingredients showed Orhan's talents at their best. We finished with Baklava for S and Almond pudding for me and a cup of strong Turkish coffee to see us through the long walk west. Throughout our long meal we were fastidiously and politely waited on by the wait staff who were excellent. Orhan was overseeing the entire place and ensuring that everything was going smoothly in the kitchen and that all his customers were well taken care of out in the dining room. I motioned to him as he was passing and he came over and when I told him how much we enjoyed his place, and that this was my first taste of Turkish food in over 27 years, that served as a launching point into our reminiscing about Turkey of years past. We had a wonderful time there and although we did not know Orhan prior to our visit, we left feeling we had made a new acquaintance. I highly recommend you try this place the next time you're in town. You will not be disappointed. (PS: I skipped the Raki this time!)

House of Brews

We were hungry and desirous of a beer, so we jauntily walked over to a place we noticed earlier and had never been to, called the House of Brews on W. 46th. St. The ubiquitous menu (beer) and Zagat rating met us at the door giving me a warm and fuzzy, and we were immediately drawn inside by their selection of draft and bottles and secondarily their food menu. We picked a table alongside the wall opposite the long, straight-line bar and upon having the beer menu placed before me, my eyes fell quite easily and naturally upon a local draft beer that I would probably not find at home: Captain Lawrence Brewing Company's Captain's Reserve Imperial IPA. Gotta support local beers when you leave the cozy environs of your home town, after all! S checked out every beer on the menu and 30 minutes later chose The Checker Cab Blond Ale from the Chelsea Brewing Company in Manhattan, a light and tasty Bavarian kolsch. (I had a sip of this and I thought it was excellent--very drinkable and many of them I could drink if given the chance!) To go with the brews, we shared a spicy meat, slaw, and fries plate laden with tasty black beans, spicy pulled pork, and delectable and perfectly grilled sausage and chicken. I have to admit the IPA was excellent and went straight to my head and I tried to slink out of there underpaying by at least $10. But alas, the bar maid called me on it and I had to `fess up and pay the full price. Totally embarrassed by the situation, the bar maid took it swell and after, we reminisced on the way back east, the last time we faux pas'ed on a tip in Manhattan and I was forced to empty garbage cans full of leftovers back behind the restaurant. Well, not really, but it might have led to that. The service was great, the beer selection is good (there was even a barleywine on a hand-pump) and if you're in the Theater area, this place is close enough to hop in for a sip before a show. I recommend it.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Double Dry Hop Maneuver

The double twisting back-transfer-to-secondary with a Dry Hop bag thrown in, went off without incident tonight and received a 9.9 from the judges. I decided to go with 1.5 oz of Cascade. Yippee!

Wall Streeters have the Right Idea

Wall St. types a.k.a Masters of the Universe who are losing their jobs are drowning their sorrows at Pink Slip Parties in Midtown Manhattan.

Welcome to the real world--I hope you saved and didn't squander those $640K bonuses!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Christmas Brew Update

This year came to a close just so darned quick, that by the time I looked at the calendar, and figured back from Christmas to now, there just wasn't enough time to do another proper Christmas lager. I know, I know, I'm slacking....

So, on Saturday I ended up brewing a slight variation of my last brew, a Harpoon IPA clone, and try to have it finish hoppier. First, I went with Galena bittering and flavor hop instead of Clusters. Galena is a 10.5% AA hop versus Clusters which is 6.5% AA. Secondly, I intend to dry hop after four days in primary fermentation, with one ounce of my home-grown Cascade hop (unknown % AA) added to the secondary fermenter. One other variable was changed from the original recipe--I went with an additional half-pound of M&F light DME to try to balance the extra bitterness. I intend to say in the secondary fermentation for another four to six days and then bottle.

The wort chiller I picked up at the Beer Solution on Blackman Street, worked very well indeed and cooled the hot liquor down to 80 F in less than 10 minutes. This is probably a 30 minute savings over ice which I have hertofore used exclusively.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Rogue Double Dead Guy (s walking)

Two deal guys walk into a bar. The bartender goes: "What will it be, boys?". The first dead guy goes: "Ya got anything that will make me look better?" The second dead guy pipes in" Yeah. Me too??" The bartender takes a minute and looks the first dead guy up and down, looks the 2nd dead guy up and down and finally says: "Gee, I'm sorry guys, I don't have anything that can fix your problems, did you drink a lot when you were alive?, but I do have something that will make your forget about your problems for a while: Rogue Double Dead Guy Ale."

Recently, I saw a bottle of Rogue Double Dead Guy Ale over at mybeerbuzz and immediately I was drawn to it's snarky, fulgent red bottle, and I knew, I just knew, I had to get that baby into my grubby three hands and give it a try. Give it a rip and see what'cher made of.

I am you might call, a desperately unenthusiastic fan of west-coast beers, and I've tried quite a few of the Rogue offerings to date, but never the Double Dead Guy, so what better time than now, in celebration of our first release of boog-free code. (Boss: What did you do today? Slave-ant: I drank a Double and fixed boogs but not on the synthesizer variety, ok?) So, today I went out at lunch, to that icon to alcohol, the Spirits Unlimited Package Store (what a cool euphanism, no?), and picked up two bombers: one for me, and one for J.

First, why Double? Well, double because two are always better than one. And because two dead men walking deserve double of everything. Double shots of espresso. Double dips of vanilla ice cream. Double the girls == double the fun.

Dead Guys? Well, because there are two dead guys on the bottle. I'm one of them, the last of a dead breed of developers who trace their lineage back to the days when Dinosaurs walked the Earth, the world was spun with fiber, copper, and wire invented, designed, managed, researched, developed, and owned by a single monopolistic goliathan company with over 1 million employees. (Some scoff and say we were overrated. Most don't even realize what we do. sigh) The other? The second prisoner in this story, Pygmalion, trying to escape the surly bonds of the off-shoot bastard step-child pygmythion company, with his nut. Two dead-guys walking. Lucky to be walking, but still dead. (But we don't know it yet.)

The beer? A sweet blossoming honey flavored and colored delight, dripping with a hint of alcoholic nose, booziness hinted, booziness felt, in the toes. A tossle-tan head that easily overflows the shaker on a soft-pour. A hoppy kick in the head, enough to wake the dead.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Ruth's Chris Steak House -- Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs

On Saturday, S and I enjoyed dinner at Ruth's Chris Steak House inside the Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs Casino, courtesy of CC. Thanks CC--you are a treasure and a tribute to your race and gender!

The restaurant is located on the outside of the pedestrian ring that encircles the slot-floor and is impossible to miss as you walk around the casino perimeter. We arrived at around 6:30 and there were perhaps hundreds of gamblers in the ring, each feverishly punching away their children's college funds, hoping beyond all hope for that one knock-out punch that would make it all ok.

As we approached the restaurant we faced a tinted glass facade behind which we knew not what to expect, this being our first foray to this place. The greeter opened the door from the inside, held it open before us and welcomed us as we stepped inside the antechamber. When we informed the hostess that we had no reservations, she asked would we mind dining in the lounge, and when we responded in the negative, we were immediately ushered through a curved passageway to the inner sanctum, this monument to beef, the lounge.

The lounge consists of a U-shaped bar, with stools for maybe 30, topped with crystalline, black granite and high pub tables with the same material for their mesas. Perhaps 10 tables-for-two stand sentry around the lounge perimeter. The area is wonderfully dark, intoxicating, and seductive, and is an absolutely perfect place to take a date. Not a first date mind you, but someplace you take your Love after you've been going out for a while and wish to seal-the-meal.

Hey! Look at Me! I'm a high-roller!

The lighting is subdued, as it should be to make even late-night casino crawling skanks look good. No wait, scratch that, to make cosmopolitan high-rollers look even better than celebrity models. Jazzy, piano-bar music filters down from someplace overhead, to complete the scene.

Upon being seated a waiter bustled over and put down a cloth-napkin placemat and orchestrated an arrangement of silverware before us, and asked: Will you be having any wine tonight? I rasped out a Perhaps and opened the wine-list to give it a once-over.

Their wine-list is huge and seems to have been arranged with pairing in mind--for different dishes there's a suggested variety of wine. Nice touch. Bottles, half-bottles, and glasses are available and the prices seem reasonable as far as restaurant prices go.

But what I was really looking for was a beer-menu. And upon that menu, I was hoping to find a nice hoppy micro brew to pair with my bouf, but alas, all they had were macro lagers, Yuengling Lager, and Guinness Pub Draught. That's it! What a disappointment. So...instead of beer we opted for Basket Case Syrah, after all, the bottle said it's for the crazy in all of us.

Bread was brought immediately which we devoured like we hadn't eaten in days, one hand, moving hand to mouth and the other flipping the pages of the menu.

I'm a rib-eye man myself and was immediately drawn to it like flys on a steer. It doesn't take me long to make up my mind. S on the other hand, must read every....single.....appetizer....entree.....side.....salad......choice.

Our waitress came over and informed us as we looked over the menu that the sides are large and a single one of which is enough for two. I asked S to pick the sides as this is one of the most important decisions to be made when in steak house heaven.

Once S finally decided what to have, Saturday night had become early Sunday morning and we had gone through another waitress shift-change. I ordered my rib-eye medium rare, with onions and mushrooms, S ordered the petit filet cooked medium-well, with Lobstah tail and we shared a side of potato au gratin and a second side of asparagus.

When our meals arrived they were literally sizzling on the plates and we were dutifully warned that they were very hot. Good thing, too as ever since the AC/DC concert I haven't been able to hear a thing. The steaks were prepared perfectly to our specifications, as stringent as they are. My rib-eye was as succulent as summer watermelon and as tender as S's inner thigh. S's petit filet was not quite as tender but still excellent and the lobster was as usual tasty. The potato was excellent, and the asparagus tasted like it came out of my father's garden that morning, even though way out of season.

For desert we ordered creme brulee and wondered aloud whether it would arrive with or without the utensil which would be used to open a crevasse to be filled with the mighty creme juice. It did not, to our relief, as filling a crevasse with creme juice is something that should be done discretely or at the very minimum when dining at the Four Seasons in Scottsdale.

The staff at this restaurant is attentive without being cloying--the manager stopped by to check on us as well as top off our wine glasses, part-way through our dinner. Now, I have been to a few steak houses in NYC, Keen's and Frankie and Johnnies, come to mind, and I'm here to tell you that the steaks here are as good as those. However, and this is a big one, this restaurant's prices are high by NEPA standards and frankly equivalent to the two places I just mentioned in New York. But on the other hand, while I can get a great steak at The Ovalon, The Powerhouse, or Damenti's, and they may be less in price, they just don't stack up with those at Ruth's Chris. To Ruth's Chris credit, they do offer an $89 dinner for two package that includes a choice of steak entrees, sides, and desert. So you can savor the atmosphere and steak and save a little cash for the slots.

Overall, this is a great place to bring a date or for a special occasion and at the same time achieve steak nirvana. However, please, please, please, I beg of you, offer some craft beer!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Beer tasting and food pairing event at Hazleton Art League

Just saw in the Standard-Speaker that on Sunday November 16 starting at 4 p.m. at the Hazleton Art League, Michael Kattner, owner of Simply Homebrewing, will be conducting an educational, two hour course called Exploring Beer Styles. The cost if $15 and gives beer students the chance to taste six different beer styles with a representative beer from each style. He will also give an introduction to pairing beer with food. A photo id is required. For registration information, call Dr. Carl Frankel at 454-4982 ir 450-3080.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Medieval Times

Prince Goofy the Minimus and his loyal minions gathered his subjects Thursday last, to present his vaunted strategic engagement plans and edicts for the year of our Lord 2009.

Gathered were they to the castle on the hill, where one Lord after another, landed, wealthied, and sycophant all, rose to tell the Prince that all is well in the land of Niocj, the treasury is brimming with gold, and expansion plans are in place to increase the dominion. So to, the messages were directed to his restless subjects, who in the past year had seen many of their number fall due to the strategic missteps emanating from the hands of King Lootus (struck down the year past by unknown illness), and his successor King Charlatan from the West. His subjects knew the loss must be laid upon the plans to send all of their number to foreign lands to fight. To say the natives were restless would be understatement at the least. Questions from the Prince's subjects, though giving the impression of being wanted and accepted, were put off to any remaining time at the end of the day, in hope that there be no time remaining to respond. A few minutes at the end, and questions there were, one in particular about the wiseness of the King's displacement of subjects to foreign lands with no replacements to carry on the fight here at home. The Prince answered himself, with cunning and appeasatory skill using circular logic, not really answering, a Prince he Be after all. Resigned they were, his subjects, no one willing to tell the Prince he wore no clothes, their lives they loved.

Later, knowing the value of entertainment and beer to placate the foul beastery of his unhappy subjects, The Prince ordered that everyone engage in revelry at the sporting arena of a place called Medieval Times, 30 miles distant at the edge of the realm.

Once at the arena, malty and sweet, beer of the Samuel Adams Winter Lager variety was served, the first round paid from the Prince's purse itself! (but after all, this was really the subject's own tax payments unbeknownst to them). The beer was cool and served by the keg to all who had gathered that eve. Expensive in gold this beer was, but the subjects realizing their lot in life, descended upon it like ravenous hyena and quaffed great quantities. What followed was a convivial atmosphere amongst the subjects and even with the great lords of the land! Although the lords seemed a bit perplexed at what to say to ordinary people when unscripted!

Then, with a great flourish of fanfare, the trumpeter blew the gathering to attention in order to proclaim in the words immortalized earlier by one of his subjects, the musician Ian Anderson:

My Lord and Lady, we have fortuitously happened upon these, uh...strolling players to provide you with their goodly tunes whilst you set about your, uh... prandial delights, albeit in the lamentable absence of your guests. So, my lord and lady, for your entertainment......

And so the great congregation moved to the arena with as much beer as they could carry, to be seated at tables facing the center of the arena, and to be entertained by sporting events and frivolous merriment consisting of horsemanship, jousting skill, soldiery, and swordery. The participants in the events were all the knights of the land, who were engaging to achieve the hand of the King's daughter in Holy Matrimony.

The Prince worried for his life amongst the riff-raff of his sometimes disloyal subjects, seated himself at the ultimate seating location, the better to keep an eye on his unruly subjects, a Prince he Be and wish to Remain, after all.

A dinner of tomato bisque and bread (foreign to many of the subjects), roasted fowl with potato, and apple crisp were served along with drink of many varieties, by wenches employed at the arena. The food was excellent, but did nothing to decrease the agitation of the raucous subjects who fervently cheered their Red knight during the games.

But alas, the Red knight, himself acting as if he had drank heavily, was quickly eliminated from the competition, much to the dismay of Prince Goofy's subjects, who then turned their attentions elsewhere for the remainder of the evening.

This unworthy scribe was not able to see straight at the end of the evening, at least enough to understand exactly what happened next as third party post priori accounts vary. One description is that one of the Prince's subjects, one known as Jla, took a roundhouse swing at the Prince upon leaving the arena, but fell flat on his face, having ingested too much beer. Another says that the Prince himself took a swing at Jla, missed, and was himself tagged on the head by a flag of the Red knight flung from the top of the arena by one of his irritated subjects. We'll probably never know exactly what happened, but many subjects wonder amongst themselves, if they will make another year unscathed to participate in such activity again.

Beerificio Italiano!

I have been planning a trip to Italy for some time now and with more favorable exchange rates, a welcome craft-brewing culture, and of course the excellent cibo, I think I'll be making the trip sooner rather than later!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Again, 30 Years Later AC/DC Rocks Wilkes-Barre

AC/DC bore down on the Wachovia Arena in Wilkes-Barre Township last night to play an energtic set before a packed house of about 12000 faithful to open their 2008-2009 Black Ice world tour.

Their last raid on the city was a full 30 years ago when they opened for Rainbow at the Paramount Theater on Public Square in Wilkes-Barre, during the summer of `78, and this show brought some of the same tunes and energy of that show (and a new lead singer), along with a handful of new songs from the Black Ice album.

The show opened to an animated short-movie projected to a screen on the wall behind the stage, of a pounding run away steam train, tastefully done in gritty comic-book style (and in some respects similar to some of the scenes from ``The Wall'' movie [phallic symbol]), that basically tells the story of the rock n roll train. There's not much story to it, the song basically being about giving her all you got and taking it to the spot (you fill in the blanks here), but the editing and visuals did serve to get the mob pumped for when the band lit into the opening chords of Rock `n' Roll Train.

The lighting was excellent and there were visuals galore during the show: a bell which Brian Johnson swung on to the stage for the opening of Hells Bells, the steam train again which had explosions emanating from it on T.N.T., and of course cannon fire during For Those About to Rock. And lest I forget 42-39-56 Rosie during Whole Lotta Rosie? Let's just say there is at least one woman with those vital stats.

Most of the focus during the concert was on Brian and Angus, and secondarily Malcom and the drummer. The bassist presumably late to the party, lurked in the shadows throughout but did a fine job of holding the band to the beat. You know, Angus played his Gibson SG the whole show except for one song when he brought out, I think, a Les Paul. It struck me by the wall of sound coming from the SG just how much AC/DC can sound like the Who, especially during the period when Pete Townshend was playing his SG. I'm thinking Isle of Wight concert era here. Both guitarists were evidently searching for this sound and let me tell you both found it.

The highlight of the show for me was during Let There Be Rock when Angus soloed out on the runway to the center of the arena and was lifted like a sacrifice to the preceding mortal Rock Gods of the Ages high into the air, as he soloed, guitar overhead, on his back, rising again, in homage. Then running back and onto a catwalk behind the drumkit, soloing like it was his last. Magnificent!

The new songs, Rock 'n' Roll Train, War Machine, and a couple of others I'm not familiar with, are in a similar style to their late `80s, `90s work. Hey Man! If you like AC/DC these songs just keep the adrenaline rush surging until the next wave of guitar euphoria hits.

This band is still evergreen and skull-splittingly vibrant as ever as evidenced by their running, strutting, and duckwalking, and judging by the ages of the faithful which ranged from teenagers through at least 55. Once again, AC/DC, for one snowy night, proved the truth of their and our being: that we're all in this journey together and rock is the glue.

Set List
Rock 'n' Roll Train
Hell Ain't a Bad Place to Be
Back in Black
Dirty Deeds
The Jack
Hells Bells
War Machine
You Shook Me All Night Long
Whole Lotta Rosie
Let There Be Rock

Highway to Hell
For Those About to Rock

Opening Band
The Answer--I don't know too much about this band, they rocked for maybe 30 minutes in the style of Zep.

This blog is about beer, isn't it? Before the show I picked up a couple cups of creamy Stegmaier Oktoberfest's from one of the beer stands in the outer ring of the arena. I figured, this is probably my last taste of this brew this Fall, so why not? It was cool, the cup ran over, but it tasted great.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Patron Saints of the Brewing Arts

Did you know there were patron saints of the Brewing arts? But, I suppose there would be given the monks love of the craft over the past centuries.

Here's a good article about religion, God, and brewing, in context of the GABF held earlier this month in Denver.

Victory Prima Pils -- Favorite of German Brewery Technicians

A rather blah rainy Saturday was enlivened considerably when S and I decided to go down to Wegmans for the Harvest Season Beer and food Pairing event.

Wegmans chefs, food experts, and brewery representatives from Victory, the Lion Brewery and others, were on hand to display how delightful beer and food can be when paired.

When we arrived around 1:30, hundreds of like-minded beer enthusiasts of all persuasions were already winding their way around the Market Cafe area from station to station sampling various food and beer pairings. The food was presented in bite-sized portions along with a small plastic cup of beer. The pairings were either complimentary or juxtaposed to the dish's dominant flavors.

At the first station Victory Golden Monkey (Belgian style) was paired with a Columbus Finocchiona Salame on Baguette (basically a small hors de vours). To me, the primal strength and creaminess of the Golden Monkey was a nice compliment to the saltiness of the salami.

At the next station, Wegmans mini-pretzels with various condiments like dijon and horseradish mustard were paired with Victory Prima Pils (Pilsner style). Now this was the first time I had ever tasted Prima Pils and I'm here to tell you that it's one excellent beer refreshingly crisp and light with citrus notes prominent. The Victory rep expressed that when the German brewery techs come to work on the equipment in Downingtown, that this is the beer they like and the only beer they drink while there. Coincident with this station, the Lion Brewery rep was providing samples of their Oktoberfest. The maltiness of this beer was exactly a compliment to the bready pretzels.

Moving on to the next station there was a pairing of Troegs Trogenator Double Bock (Bavarian style) paired with brats braised in Bass Ale served on Wegmans chef- developed beer bread with Whole Grain Dijon mustard. I have had the Trogenator before and I love this beer due to its stalwart resolve. I could definitely see myself serving this pairing at a tailgate party.

The next station had Weyerbacher Hops Infusion (IPA style) with smokey, spicy, pulled pork served inside a hollowed-out pretzel, topped with cole-slaw. The punch of the Hops Infusion tasted great along with the pulled-pork sandwich. Something else that would have them raving at my next party. Oh. The hollowed-out pretzel was really a pretzel-dough roll that was baked and scooped out. Also at this station was a cheddar ale soup that has a bottle of dark beer and sharp cheddar as their main ingredients. This was pretty good but the small sample wasn't enough for me!

After that, we took a break and went to the seating area next to the tasting area to finish the pulled pork sandwiches. When we finished we were able to pick up and cut the line (sorry for cutting) when we came back and start afresh at a wine and cheese table. Wait a minute, it wasn't wine and cheese but it was close! This pairing had a crumbly, salty, yellowed, three year aged Gouda paired with Chimay Grand Reserve (the one with the champagne cork-cage on top). I had never tasted this ale and it turned out to be very fizzy, almost wine-like essence that did not have an overpowering bearing. Paired with the delicate cheese, I thought it went well.

Finally, Weyerbacher Pumpkin Ale was served with vanilla ice cream and a spiced wafer. How? Think of root beer float; now think of replacing the root beer with beer; now think pumpkin pie.... Put it all together and taste. Mmm, mmm, good. Now this was something I don't think I'd ever thought of doing myself, but let me tell you, it was excellent!

This was fun and eye-opening for me as I hadn't really thought too much about what can be done when beer and food are paired (and not just with `wings). Everyone involved from Wegman's that I spoke to at each station, was knowledgable about the beer styles and how they mesh with the particular dish or flavors. Thanks Wegmans.

Footnote: I was surprised by the turnout and how much people seemed to be enjoying themselves. Overall I believe a few more eyes were opened to the wide-world of beer we live in.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Zipfer Urtyp -- Direct from Austria

Joe's wife's relatives came over from Austria for a visit last week and brought a suitcase stuffed with cash--no wait, stuffed with Zipfer and cash, the pride of ZIPF Austria. Now isn't this just the best way to kill two birds with one stone? Bring beer to the US for Joe and make space in the suitcase to take back Tiffany, Cartier, and who knows what else at half price?

As you can see, this is a delightful looking beer having a beautiful straw golden color and a bright-white lingering head (take my word for it--in this picture it does look gray but it's really white). It looks in the glass much like Bud and with carbonation about the same. As I stuff my large size 12 nose deep into the Pilsener glass, my cilia are excited by a faint but sharp hop essence.

On first sip, honey comes to mind followed by bitterness. To me, it is a mouth-full and feels much larger than the nose would lead me to believe.

This is my first taste of this beer and with 5.4% ABV, I am impressed. While I find myself enjoying American craft beers more these days, there's nothing like keeping your options open for a bit of Austrian beer every now and again.

Joe, next time, can you ask for more of the same and while you're at it, a suitcase of Linzer torte?

Christmas Brew Plans

I have been pondering what sort of beer to brew this Christmas for family, friends, and various FAs. I totally lost track of time this year and I think it's a little late for a proper lager. So.... I'm seriously considering a variation of the Harpoon IPA adding dry-hopping using my home-grown Cascade hops in the secondary fermentation. Oh! I finally picked up a wort chiller at the Beer Solution down in Wilkes-Barre, growing weary of always having to plan ahead far enough to have ice available for chilling. Stay tuned.

It ain't over `til it's over

On Thursday we took a couple of colleagues, M and F, out for a farewell lunch at Juanito's, an excellent Mexican place in Red Bank. This place has authentic Mexican fare that's not that expensive and always muy bueno. Juanito's is a BYOB so J and I hit a package store a few minutes before noon and were lucky enough to find a nice cuisine-complimenting beer, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, holding court amongst a wall of cowering and insipid lagers in the reach-in. With package in hand we walked over to Juanito's and went in.

(Total attention deficit sidebar here: You know, I wish I could get my home-brew's to have the hop finish of the Sierra Nevada. That's the cool thing about homebrewing--if at first you don't succeed, hop, hop, and hop again. I'm going to dry-hop next time and see if I can't get my beer to finish hoppier.)

After lunch and three Ales (whoever said the liquid lunch is dead should be shot!), I got up and started to preach from my chair about how F and M were models for me in terms of energy and committment they brought to their jobs. Further, all that I learned from them that has made me a better developer. My sermon ended just after I was able to blurt out that I wished them the best in their future endeavors. After seconding these sentiments all around, we toasted the two into the future.

The plan after, was to meet at the Lincroft Inn to give M a going away he wouldn't soon forget. J and I arrived early and this still being strong Lager country, we proceeded to quickly down a mug of that which is the elixir of a coal-country man such as myself, Yuengling Lager. The first led to the second which led to the 3rd and after we gave up and started to head back, and as we were going out the door, figuring we had been stood up, our crew arrived consisting of M, R, and J. We went back in, sat down and ordered another round to toast M once again. Are you keeping count?

A little later, J came in, down from RB, ordered some wings all around and we dug in. At this point having been going for a good three hours we had thirsted up an awful hunger. J, being a long-time colleague of M's, ordered a magnum of Dom at this point, saying that it's an old custom coming from the areas they worked previously (part of a large, no-longer-viable, telecommunication equipment manufacturer headquartered in New Jersey that shall remain nameless).

Dom all around!

(Just before this, M arrived and being in training for the NYC Marathon [Good Luck M!]), was in the middle of tapering and would only sip.) We toasted M and reminisced for the rest of the afternoon. Having a 2.5 hour drive to get home, J and I left the crew at about five.

I'm gonna miss these guys. They were survivors who got off the island before the coming hurricane. I wish them all the best and thanks for the memories.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

1st Annual Oktoberfest at One Guy Brewing

Beer from stichfass tap burbled into glass to the strains of oom-pah music; `kraut-laced Brats burst hot from the grill adorning plates of fresh hot German potato salad; old friends greeted each other bilingually in German and English; new friendships were forged over glasses of Oktoberfest beer; good conversation and laughter filled the air. Today at One Guy Brewing's 1st Oktoberfest, everything great about Oktoberfest was on display in the tap-room in Berwick.

One Guy Brewing opened their doors in celebration of Oktoberfest to the delight of hundreds of like-minded fellow Oktoberfesters, on a bright, warm, mid-October day in Eastern PA.

Three beers were featured today. On-tap was the Oktoberfest beer, a malty thirst quencher that serves as the ultimate transitional brew that gently takes the drinker from breezy summer days to the brisk Winter days soon to follow; Seasons Wheatings, the dark, mysterious stranger that tantalizes the senses with exotic spiciness and punch, and the Peach Wheat, with its hint of peaches that reminds us of the lazy, hazy, fun-filled summer days just passed.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

What does it all Mean?

Read this for a pretty picture of where we may be headed as a country.

The way I see it, things aren't gonna be the way they were for a long time--this is why we need to appreciate what we have and how to make do with what we don't, who we are and how we act. Things like family, friends, nature, and good times, are gonna be the coin of the realm going forward.

It's gonna be hard, but we can do it.

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Lion Brewery Oktoberfest

S and I and a cast of epic proportions thoroughly enjoyed ourselves at the Lion Brewery's Oktoberfest Saturday night in Wilkes-Barre.

We drove down from Mountain Top, parked at Mohegan Sun and took the shuttle bus over to the brewery about 10 minutes away. We got there around five and walked out of the bus to the accompaniment the mid-Autumn Sun's fanfare and the first thing I noticed different from last year was the layout of the grounds that were rearranged in a more open and spacious manner. There was a huge tent in the center of the grounds to the east of the brewery that was packed with people enjoying Brats, Clams, Pulled Pork sandwiches, pizza, felafel's, potato cakes, haluski, and of course beer. Around the perimeter of the grounds were the beer tents and the food stands. At the southernmost end was the band shell where the bands were performing, and in front of that was a large open area where the mob could gather to enjoy the music. There was a strolling accordion player resplendent in his authentic alpine German entertainer's garb, enchanting and delighting the crowd, adults included. It's nice to see that the Accordian is still getting its due! To the northeast were the carnival rides which included a ferris wheel, swinging chairs, and more, making this an Oktoberfest like the one in Munchen and one that everyone could enjoy. Last year, everything seemed to be crammed into half the space, and everyone I ran into seemed to enjoy the extra space and thoughtful layout changes.

Most of the beer tents were serving the Stegmaier Oktoberfest and the Stegmaier Midsummer White. But down at the Northern end, was another tent serving some of the Pocono beers of which I had never tried any. When I saw the Pocono Pale Ale, I had to try it, and let me tell you that that was my go-to brew for the night. She was a wonderfully balanced malt-hop beauty, a bit top-heavy if you know what I mean, and with a copper-toned blush about her once the wind blew her dirty blond hair aside. To my nose she smelled of the mountains and to my taste, sweet goodness with a nice bit of Cascade hop. An excellent beer that I'll be going back to again.

As late afternoon made way to crisp early-evening, a four-piece band that goes by the name of The Five Percent was on stage. They played a lot of covers well and did a nice version of Wonderwall. I may be wrong but I seem to remember them closing Friday night last year. Later, I discovered that they also create original music but I didn't detect anything original in their set on Saturday. They were followed by 40 lb Head who, let me tell you, can ignite a crowd. They got my attention when the lead singer urged the crowd to join in as the band launched into Blitzkrieg Bop and I Wanna be Sedated. I joined in with the Hey, Ho, Let's Go chorus and started to hop around a bit--it was the beer hopping at this point, I here to tell ya. Sadly, they didn't play the songs fast enough or with enough chain saw edginess--I guess there will only ever be one Ramones. Sigh.

When we arrived there were maybe a thousand revelers enjoying themselves. There were singles, couples, families, throngs hourdes and groups of friends of all persuasions partaking in this most German of celebrations. When we left there were proably twice that and a long queue of partiers waiting to get in.

We missed C, L, and D who got there just as we were leaving, but we did manage to bump into a former coworker of S's, Kathy and her husband Joe from Hometown, and we caught up with them all the while enjoying the atmospherics.

Kudos to whomever arranged the shuttle buses, as the bus stop was easy to find on the Mohegan Sun property due to the profuse signage, the buses were running very regularly (probably every 15 minutes), and the bus left us off right at the brewery entrance.

The thing that strikes me about Oktoberfest is that there's nothing quite like it. That is, there's no similar event I know of, where families and friends can get together, have fun, and enjoy good food, fun, music, and beer. Thank you Lion Brewery!

How much beer do you drink?

I recently read here that Poland was #18 in terms of per-capita beer consumption at 69.1 liter per person. The US comes in #12 at 81.6 liters per person, and the #1 beer drinking country is the Czech Republic at something like 151 liters per person. I figure that I drink just about the US average, and I think I drink quite a lot. It makes me wonder given there are a lot of non-drinkers out there, just how much the real beer-lovers consume?

So 81.6 liters is about 86 quarts which is 21.5 gallons. Thats equivalent to about 229 12 oz bottles. Not much is it? On second thought, maybe I do enjoy more than an average amount.

Na zdrowie!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Oktoberfest Marzen Beers

Here's a good article in Beers of the Times where they taste 20 or so beers in the Oktoberfest Marzen style.

Where am I?

What day is it? Did I sleep through yesterday?

Monday, September 29, 2008

Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA

After watching the stock market tank today, I debated with myself as to whether or not I should crack into the 120 minute IPA I've been cellaring for a few months--to see if I could drown my sorrows in something on the order of less that 120 minutes. That's gotta be why it's named that, no?

The debate went something like this: Drink it, you know you want to... And then: Don't drink it, the market's gonna fishtank even more tomorrow and you'll really need it then. And back: Listen, drink it now. It will help you sleep and realize that there may be no tomorrow. And finally: No, save it for when you are holed up in the cellar, you've run out of all other beer and food, and you just can't go on any longer.

Tomorrow: Does Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA cure a Wall Street Hangover?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Paul Newman 1925-2008

I was saddened to hear of Paul Newman's passing this past week.

I've always admired Paul Newman for his acting. Who doesn't love the coolness he imbued in his roles in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Sting, and The Road to Perdition? Always in control. Unflappable. Watching him you just knew he could handle anything with aplomb.

I looked up to Paul Newman for his philanthropic work, too. And as a matter of fact when I was in college, in one class we were asked to name someone we looked up to and I named him for this very reason. Anyone who can take his celebrity and direct it to something good, is ok in my book.

The same coolness he brought to the roles he played on film, he brought to the race track on race day. He raced sports cars, those cool exotic machines that go fast and turn both left and right. I saw him race back in the late `80s or early `90s at Watkins Glen. Although he drove different cars in different classes, at the time, I think he was driving the Spice SE89P #002 Oldsmobile V-8 powered beast in the GTP (Grand Touring Prototype) class. I don't remember how he did but that's besides the point. I saw him up-close walking behind pit row and in that stride you could just see the same coolness he brought to his character portrayals. I didn't say anything to him, but I should have.

I hear he liked beer.

Let's lift one in memory of Paul Newman: Actor, Racer, Philantrophist, Beer Drinker. May ye rest in peace.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Georgetown Deli in Autumn

S and I try to rendezvous once a week and this week we were looking for someplace new to try when she suggested the Georgetown Deli. My first thought as I was struck by wanderlust, was that I needed more gas to make it to Georgetown in DC but no, it wasn't that Georgetown but the Georgetown much closer to home. She was referring to the Georgetown Deli--it's next to the Big Cow on 309 in Wilkes-Barre Township.

We met at 5:15 on Friday, went in, and were immediately impressed by the great cold and warm beer selection displayed in the reach-in cooler to the left and arrayed on shelves around the place. Beer here, can be purchased by the bottle or six-pack, for drink-in or carry-out. They have many familiar brands like Dogfish Head, Weyerbacher, Lancaster Brewing Company, and Victory as well as the even more familiar names like Miller and Budweiser. I even saw a few Belgian Dubels lurking on a shelf. What I'm trying to say is that the Georgetown Deli has a beer for every budget and a beer for every taste.

I ordered a Pepperoni sub and S ordered the Reuben with sauerkraut. Meanwhile, we started to wander around to find something to have with our sandwiches. I wanted to try something that fit the season and when I targetted Weyerbacher AutumnFest, I knew my search was over. I picked a six (wanting to prolong our evening to nightfall) and popped the cap on the first. It poured with a one-inch creamy off-white to tannish head with a georgous amber color fortelling the soon-to-come kiss of falling leaves upon God's green earth. In the nose there was very little hops aroma to speak of; upon the tongue there was the unmistakenbly pleasant and easy-drinking taste of malt as is want of the Oktoberfest beers. This beer is very drinkable and is a nice transition from the refreshing summer Weizens to the winter warmers. I recommend it.

About then, our sandwiches arrived and we learned that the Big Cow has a name. I did not know this. It's name is: Three-Oh-Nina. Interchangably, nine-ah or ni-na according to our server who informed us that the cow is owned by her family and has been for many years.

Our sandwiches were delicious, the beer was delicious and the company was delicious. If you're looking for an easy-going and inexpensive place to grab a quick deli-style meal, the Georgetown Deli is a good place to try.

You know, some of my earliest memories of trips uptown consist of me and my brothers and sister, in the car, eagerly watching the world go by and excitedly pointing and laughing as we passed by the Big Cow. We enjoyed it then, we enjoyed it yesterday, and I hope we'll get the chance to enjoy it again. Mooooooooo!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Harvest Time: Hop Picking and Drying!

Me and my Dad just finished drying our first picking of Cascade hops and we ended up with three dry ounces of scentilating hops from the two vines.

We started by only picking those cones starting to turn a little brown. Then we laid out the cones on a screen in a single layer, took the screen to a dry location and elevated it to allow air circulation over and under the hops. We put the screen in an area where it had just ambient air temperature, so we didn't use any sort of forced drying. It took about a week and a half to dry the cones at normal PA late-August air temperature. For storage, we put the hops in a double-freezer bag until we need them.

We left a ton of green cones for a second picking this week. With what I'm beginning to learn about wet hopping, I may have to do up an IPA using this second picking. Check out mybeerbuzz.com for a posting from Weyerbacher about their Harvest Ale that uses this technique.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Bacon and Beer

As followers of this blog know, I love cured meats in the form of kielbasa, sausage, and butt cheeks, paired with beer. I just discovered that Jimmy's No. 43 in the East Village is having a Bacon and Beer tasting this coming Monday night (9/8/2008) in association with Sixpoints Craft Ales. They will be pairing Sixpoints beers with various artisanal bacons. While I haven't been to Jimmy's No. 43, I have heard good things about their beers and food. The last time I was in the East Village with J, it was a Saturday afternoon/evening pub crawl and unfortunately Jimmy's was not open yet when we crawled by. Listen, Jimmy's is at 43 E. 7th St. which is just down the block from 15 E. 7th St. which is home to McSorley's. I strongly suggest if you're in the neighborhood this coming Monday night you stop by.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Lancaster Brewing Company

We sat at the bar gulping the ambiance of this converted tobacco warehouse. The bar is ell-shaped and located to the left of the door you see in the picture, in the far corner of the first floor of the structure, with a mug-club over the backbar. There's a nice draft tower on the other backbar showcasing all the beers on draught and there's a collection of growlers hanging from the ceiling along the wall you see behind the grain hopper. There are a small number of pub tables arranged in the area surrounding the bar. There's a separate restaurant directly in front of and to the right of the door with regular tables and chairs.

It appears to me that a portion of the first floor to the right of the bar, extending from the far wall in about 14 feet, and continuing down past the restaurant, has been removed. That is, if you went over to a railing installed along the edge, you can look down into the basement to see the fermentation vessels, lauter tun, and boil kettle. The fermentation tanks extend upwards from the basement to the ceiling of the first floor--what would that make them: approaching 20 feet in height? A grandfatherly open elevator presided over the whole place at the extreme right side of the restaurant's seating area. I can only imagine what this elevator was used for in the past but now it occasionally rises up, spits and sputters and opines on the state of the world and beer, serving as a reminder that old is still good. The whole place reminds me of a barn of sorts or perhaps more accurately an ancient warehouse--with massive visible structural framing members at least 12" square holding up the place and overhead exposed floor beams of the next level, rough-cut and on 12" centers--they don't build-em like this anymore!

There were a couple of small groups enjoying the beer and good conversation the whole time we were there as well as a number of men and women at the bar and at tables doing the same.

S went over to talk to someone and the next thing I knew, C came over and introduced himself to us as the Manager of the bar/restaurant. He informed us that the brewmaster's were not in at this time but that he would give us a tour instead.

We went through the restaurant and descended a flight of stairs to the cellar. C showed us where it all starts at the grain and milling room, and how the grain is then augered, oh, 50 feet into a hopper above the lauter tun. The lauter tun is right next to the natural gas fired copper boil kettle. These occupy roughly the center positions in a line of about 10 tall fermentation vessels. C said it takes two boils to fill one of the fermenters.

Away from the brewing area, there was a field of drums in the center of the basement and when asked what was in them, we learned that this is the spent grain which is picked up by a local farmer for use as animal food.

The brewery here brews all the drafts served in the bar upstairs and also fills kegs that end up at beer distirubors. Bottling no longer takes place in this facility as it has outgrown the ability and space to do so. The Lion Brewery in Wilkes-Barre contract brews their bottled beers now. C delighted us when he said that expansion may be in the works with another nearby brewery possible.

By the time we climbed the stairs to go back to the first floor, I had finished the Hop Hog IPA and was thirsting for another. Did I tell you that this beer is hoggish 7.9% ABV with a very svelte taste for that size pork belly? It pours a beautiful dark amber with super-nice hop aroma and plenty of citrus and herbal scents. An excellent beer to have with say, rib eye steak, which was what S and I ordered for dinner.

After we ate, I asked the server if she would ask C to come over before we left so I could thank him for the tour and his place's excellent hospitality.

So ends, my Lancaster Dreaming weekend. Thanks S, for another excellent birthday treat for yours truly. You're the best!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Waking up in Munich USA on a Saturday in August

Boom-chaka-laka-laka-boom-chaka-laka beat the rhythm of a hip-hop song squawking from a clock-radio jarring me awake Saturday at about 3:20. That's AM folks.

As I shook the spooks out of my eyes, I noticed a welcome-basket on the desk. As my eyes focused like laser-beams, the first things I targeted were two brown bottles shining through the cellophane wrap: one was labeled: Lancaster Brewing Company Milk Stout and the other was labeled Lancaster Brewing Company Strawberry Wheat Beer. Next, I saw two pint shakers in there and some snacks. I figured this was gonna be a great weekend but as yet knew not, just how Everestian.

Oh, did I mention the dream I had about balloons? Well that fiction was about to become reality and was next on my agenda this day: a flight above Lancaster in a hot air balloon. We drove over to Bird in Hand with Bottle Not in Hand (hey it's 4 am) and let me tell you that I was as excited as a kid at Christmas about what it would be like to experience floating above the earth NUIofA, discerning no motion whatsoever. It is very similar to the sensation you can achieve when sailing upon the water, and it it is all they say it is and much more. The only motion that I could detect was that felt when ascending or descending through air stratum blowing in different directions. I saw plenty of hayfields, tobacco fields, and jackasses roaming the pastures of Lancaster on our way to eventual touchdown on the lawn of an old-folks home about 10 miles north of where we started, about two miles shy of Lancaster airport. Touchdown and wrapup of the balloon was probably the highlight of the week for the residents of the home and everyone wanted to have a look inside the basket and the technique used to wrap everything up. I want to say that when we had our Mimosa's celebrating flight, it became only clear to me then, just what it means to be lighter than air. Interesting note is that we hit a high altitude of about 3500 feet and used up one tank of LPG getting there.

Feverishly she wept upon the pillow of her plans as she tried to arrange the final raison d'etre: The Brewmaster's Weekend. With a bit of finagling she put the telephone receiver down and said: ``Let's go''. As we drove into Lancaster proper, I still didn't know where we were going but she said: ``Just wait, you'll like it''. We pulled up and parked on the street next to the Lancaster Brewing Company, and I finally figured it out.

We went inside and immediately were drawn to the bar where we quickly ordered less beer than any insane man would dare. I had had the Hop Hog IPA earlier this summer for the first time when T and G joined me to celebrate T's birthday at the 15th Street Beer Warehouse in Hazleton. I liked it then on draft and I liked it even more from the source.