Sunday, November 29, 2009

Going home

Ah, Nanticoke.

The PA one that is.

Maybe the only place where the denizens love their kielbasa and dill pickles as much as I do!

And the only town in the US where over half of its citizens claim Polish ancestry.

Where at the former Lazarus department store you could stand in awe of the precursor to the internet--running over a network of pulleys and wires--sending cash and receipts from the register to the office and back.

And at Carrols probably the last place you could fork over a buck and get a hamburger, fries, a soda, and some change back.

Ah, Nanticoke: The city of my birth and home to Madison's Vodka Bar and Steakhouse on 396 E. Washington Street.

Last night the ever-intrepid S and I met up with J, H, and D to enjoy and partake in some holiday revelry and I'm here to tell you we had a blast reminiscing about bike racing and all things with two wheels, simple systems that could be retrofitted to our cars to create and burn hydrogen (stand clear, please), the Federal Reserve, and the Rothschild family.

You know: Just the usual save the world BS.

Oh, and J and H introduced me to the exotic Absinthe which sounds just ritualistic, and intriguing-of-taste enough for me to want to try. Soon.

The details in this establishment make it a standout: The decorative coving around the bar and dining rooms' high ceilings that draw the eye up to what looks to be original tin ceiling tiles; the expansive (read wide) bar top giving ample room to eat and drink (with two hands and elbows) and supported by a bar base with vertical planks spaced so as to give ample shadow lines which are echoed in the dining room; a simple thin vertical bar rail--still, graced by a routed edge of a unique sort I've not seen used in other bar rails.

Over the back bar is a contemporary bookcase-style shelving system holding what looks to be an extensive selection of cocktail liquors.

The wall over the back bar also sports six handles with the Breaker Brewing Company's handle towering above the rest.

Dude: We've gotta talk about the Breaker Brewing Company one of these days.

The Malty Maguire was great and seemed just about like when we had it over at Elmer Sudds when it debuted. There was another unidentified handle on the end, which no longer poured as the keg had kicked earlier in the day. The `keep said it was a stout: Olde King Cole Stout perhaps? I wish it had been on, but hey, now I've got a reason to go back!

S & yours truly went for the the white chowder to start--the clam bits were velvety soft and tender unlike many other examples. No steak tonight for us but the seafood platter special caught our eyes and was just right and consisted of clam, shrimp, orange roughy, scallop, and crab cake components. Did I mention that I like cole slaw? This was an interesting take on the side, with small minces and dices and that was creamy and a bit tangy.

As is wont to be on occasions such as these (or any occasion really when friends share in thought and opinion), the seafood platter stimulated a communal lamentation of the loss of VicMar's. Sigh.

Our party had a lot of fun as did everyone else there that night.

H: Did that Gibson taste good?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Bottle Conditioning

I'm having intermittent good luck with bottle conditioning.

Some batches turn out great while others have no carbonation or very little.

Could it be the high gravities depressing yeast activity at this late stage?

Could it be the technique I use to add a bit more sweet wort prior to bottling (basically adding a few ounces periodically during the transfer from fermenter to bottling bucket)? If that was the case, I would expect to have some bottles with plenty and others with none, but all have almost none. And I have used this technique with success in the past so it's probably not this.

Gotta research this.

2009 Christmas Variation IPA

Monday I brewed a very special beer: One containing only homegrown hops.

I may have gone a bit overboard on the exhilaration quotient when I used a total of 14 ounces of whole flower Cascade and Willamette. And I have dry hopping yet to go.

This is gonna be good.

As I stood there with a few extra ounces of Simcoe® and Amarillo pellets as the wort was boiling, I was faced with a decision. Should I toss them in too or save them for a rainy day? One of life's real quandaries, no? I decided against for the sake of science.

I have no idea how strong these hops are: They were harvested by my Dad in September and immediately vacuum sealed and frozen. They are basically fresh hops.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Old Ebbitt Grill

Sunday we grabbed lunch at Old Ebbitt Grill just east of the White House.

Now this is a bar. The photo does not do justice to the nicely turned columns, the big-game trophies, the back-bar. A real man-cave.


S and I just got back from our secret mission to DC.

I don't usually tell anybody about these secret trips, but this time, I'll make an exception.

Psst. This one's for the Ladies. But fella's: Listen close.

Friday and Saturday were Ida-ugly but made delightful by side-trips to Pizzeria Paradiso where we had some really tasty pizza and some great beers too. We went to the Georgetown location which was a nice walk from where we stayed. Alas as local as I could get, as I always try, was Baltimore: I ordered up aClipper City Winter Storm Warning Imperial ESB from a cask. I'm not much of an ESB, ESP, EXP, or ELP man myself, but this one was pretty good--a nice balance of malt and hops and a very drinkable 7.5% ABV winter warmer. By the way: Where are the DC breweries?

S had the Hitachino Nest White Ale witbier (on draught), from the Kiuchi Brewery in Japan. Her taste is developing nicely, don't you think?

After we settled in with our bowl of olives, I tried to convince her, about that time, that it was called Nest White due to it's use of birds, ala Ace Ventura, in its manufacture.

She wasn't buy'n it.

Pizza here, by the way, is superb. We had the Paradiso with fresh Muttsarella and one extra bit of Porkaliciousness: Sausage. I'm here to tell you, if you care to listen, that the sauce was par excellence! Real tomato, and not salty. Crust: medium thickness, charred perfectly, a bit chewy. Cheese: Real. Fresh. Not your NY style pizza but YummyLicious in it's own Capitol way. There is a small bar downstairs which we didn't but pass by on the way to the restroom. I will come back here in a heart-skip.

Saturday was S's day to shine or be shined as it came to be. The Capitol Oasis, in all it's majestic splendor, awaits the patient. And by heaven's S has patience. S: you're the best and you deserve it.

And I deserve beer. (For having you.)

Saturday night we lived it up at Brasserie Beck downtown. This is a Belgian/French bistro with some really high-end Belgian waffles.

Oops I mean beers.

There's a nice bar as you go in on the right and there's an open kitchen as you walk to the rear of the space. The ceiling is high and there are old clocks high up on the walls around the place reminiscent of what you would see in a Eurpoean train station. It can be a little noisy in there.

Of some note was the Pauwel Kwak from Brouwerij Bosteels. Interesting glass--nice tasting malty beer. The glass was more interesting than the beer, I have to say. :O(

The food here was fabulous: The Belgian Frites are not to be missed. For my main, I had the special which was prawns in a tomoato/anchovy base. S had a crispy critter that they call a Skate. The waiters there are good at what they do and their beer knowledge is pretty good. As was the barkeep's btw.

Mission Accomplished!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Uncle Kazek Porter done

Uncle Kazek Porter is done, and in the bottle aging.

Labels are done! Thanks J!

The better of the two came in at an ultralight 9.7% ABV. But who's counting?

Hey Tazio, what's in the Beer Meister?

I just got done rake'n (but are you ever really done), and had a hellacious hanker'n for Lager. make a long story wet, I have a fresh 1/4 of Yuengling Lager rapidly emptying.

And one for the real men: A fresh 1/6 of Troegs Troegenator Double Bock.