Sunday, February 28, 2010

Beer Sessions Coming Soon

The Good Beer Seal is going to sponsor a new radio show called Beer Sessions on the Heritage Radio Network!

Every Tuesday at 5:00 PM, Jimmy Carbone (of Jimmy's No. 43- a founding member of The Good Beer Seal) will play host to an audio ale salon alongside a rotating corps of co-hosts including Sam Merritt (founder of Civilization of Beer) and Ray Deter (owner of d.b.a.).

Beer loving raconteurs will offer toasts, share craft beer news, and swap anecdotes about their lives on the front lines of the craft beer movement. Feel free to email questions, toasts and your personal beer lore to our hosts at

Beer Sessions will begin airing on March 2 at 5:00 PM, and every Tuesday thereafter. If you miss a week, don't worry! You can access archived radio programs from the Heritage Radio Network site. Keep this link for quick access to your new favorite show!

Beer Adages

People who drink beer shouldn't ever be far from a bathroom.

The effects of beer are only borrowed.

Buy a man a beer and he's a friend for an hour--teach a man to brew and the friendship lasts at least a case.

Beer spills. Get over it.

Brewing: The happy art.

Friday, February 26, 2010

A Visit to the Beer Sage

Have trouble telling a Porter from a Stout?

Confused about why a logger would be found in a bottle?

Well still thy heart beer drinker. The Beer Stop's a place that will set your mind at ease.

When you visit ask for Alan. If he's around, engage him in some conversation about beer--he's as knowledgeable about beer as Webster was to words and always willing to guide, explore your tastes, and help pick out something new that will tickle your palate.

And whether it's just a can of Steel Reserve to steel your nerves before going home to the wife and kids, or a bottle of Terrapin Hopsecutioner that you stash away for when you hunker down for the coming storm, or a bottle of Serpent's Stout to take on your next church outing, chances are the Beer Stop has it.

The wisdom of a beer sage, a wide selection of single beers, sixes, and cases, and a convenient location in southern Luzerne County.

A win-win-win.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

American Craft Beer Week

American Craft Beer Week is May 17 - 23, 2010.

This national celebration of America’s small and independent professional craft brewers needs you! Homebrewers helped unite 10,000 fans of American Craft Beer Week 2009, and you can help make 2010 just as much fun. This year’s American Craft Beer Week includes a homebrew recipe from the AHA's Big Brew celebration. Participating breweries will be brewing the American Craft Beer Wheat recipe and tapping it May 17-23.

Learn more at American Craft Beer Week

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Did I just visit a wine shoppe?

I just visited The Beer Stop again and for the first time in my life, felt like I was in a wine shop picking a vintage.

Just say'n...

Monday, February 15, 2010

Was ist los? Der Bier Stube!

Purely by intention we found ourselves under a partly cloudy sky driving east through Iowa with the fertile plains all around and nearing the mighty Mississip with enough driving under our belts to have worked up quite a mean hunger.

And by Glorious Accident (that again!), when we exited I-80 we found this delightful place called Der Bier Stube in LeClaire Iowa right on the west bank of the river.

I have it on good word that Der Bier Stube means, roughly translated, the beer room--a place every home has (or should have) where friends and family gather for a good time. Indeed.

Specialty meats shine here and we had a wonderful Würste plate with many tasty varieties of sausage including: Knackwurst, bratwurst, weisswurst (sans the sucking), polish, frankfurter and landjäger. On the side was a small bowl of zingy coarse mustard that paired perfectly with the meats.

Along with the sausage platter I opted for one of my long-time favorite beers: Paulaner Hefeweizen from the tap. S opted for the same. Their draft list and bottle list is pretty nice with a smattering of Pilsners and Hefe-Weiss and dark and light Weizen's. What would you expect at a Bier Stube? IPAs? Well there are a few IPAs on their bottle menu if you must.

Our server was a pretty blond babe: cute as a button, possibly Polish, pleasant and attentive too!

The beer was fresh and the würste was best. Worth a stop if you're passing through.


This post lost it's way on the trip from NEPA to Mountain View and is being posted better late than never!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

What is it about Scotch when it's Cold and Snowing?

Adventurers have known for a long time how bracing a dram (or three) of scotch whisky can taste after long days and weeks voyaging across land, sea, snow, trail and ice.

Now we have some proof. Somewhere around 80.

Some of Sir Ernest Shackleton's cache of scotch was recently chipped from the Antarctic ice under his hut. Certainly you've heard about it: The scotch was carried along over 100 years ago on an expedition he led to the South Pole, as fortification for he and his men during their long adventure. Even though this period of big-balls, frozen though they were, was the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration, Sir Shackleton sadly realized that heroism had its limits and when the expedition ultimately failed, the scotch was abandoned.

Now, five cases have been retrieved, some bottles still intact. In the interest of science, some of the Scotch is being returned to the original distillers for study and possibly to try to recreate the recipe.

Some find, eh?

And there you are, at the helm, commanding that H.M.S Office Desk all day, facing that interminable Outlook calendar and following that 10 days old, 20 page email trail to try to figure out what happened to whom.

You've come to seek the same solace at the end of your days as Sir Shackleton and his men did on theirs.

Looking out the window and dreaming of building a snow fortress or maybe contemplating five o'clock conquests? Go outside and shovel the foot of snow in front of your mailbox.

And whatever you do, don't drop your flask in a random snowbank when you discover you can't keep up with the falling snow. Heroism, after all, has its limits.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Fresh Beer is to ... as stale beer is to ...

Fresh beer is to Broadway as stale beer is to ...

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Rauch Bock at Berwick Brewing Company

S and I were on our way over to Red Hill yesterday for a dinner party, and under the pretext of running an errand in Berwick managed to swing by the Berwick Brewing Company (formerly One Guy Brewing) to taste what was up and see the expanded digs.

S and I were impressed by the back room (annex?) with tables, one a very nice, very large communal table with benches. You know: For those times when intimacy is outamacy or when you and 15 of your friends want to throw down with some great beer and pizza. There's a wonderful map hanging on the back wall marking the location of each brewery in Germany's Franken region. Some 300-odd in an area the size of NEPA according to Guy. (Imagine for a minute what NEPA would look like with 300 breweries? A brewery in every town over 1000 maybe? I'm smiling right now.) Some beer garden style picnic tables, some pub tables, and a nice collection of beer bottles on thin shelves lining the walls completes the scene.

I really wanted to try the Rauch Bock which had just come on tap--maybe Friday? I had never tried this style before so I really didn't know what to expect, but I ordered up a Seidel anyway which came in the correct 0.5l clear glass handled mug. Hey: When in Berwick do as the Germans do!

The first thing that struck me as the seidel was drawn and put before me was the beautiful clarity with a color sitting somewhere between golden and amber, and a nice white 2-finger head. This is a lager after all! The next thing that struck me was the smokey aroma, which I could sense even from arm's length! Wow.

The first sip brought a not-too-subtle but not nuclear-explosive either taste of the smokiness brought out by the German smoked malts used in the recipe. I wondered aloud if for this style, the smokiness was originally a Glorious Accident of the malting process or planned a priori by the brewers and requested of the maltsters. Guy informed me that it was a byproduct of the old (ancient?) way of drying malted barley in the region: by lighting and burning a fire using wood fuel as the heat source, naturally, the smoke produced by burning wood would impart a smokey attribute to the malt not unlike how smoking on the BBQ adds taste to food.

There wasn't really that much hop aroma nor would I expect there to be much challenging the smokiness and malt flavors. From the middle, the smoke flavor started to descend with a buildup in maltiness and finally finishing with a very clean, very tasty pointedness with just the slightest hint of smoke. Actually, this beer, to me, is very refreshing and pretty light--While I don't think I have any German in me (could be wrong though), I could see myself enjoying it on a regular basis and not as just some ``specialty'' beer. I don't know what the ABV of it is, but I would say somewhere around 5%?

The taproom was quickly filling up about the time we finished our first round, but the beer was so darned good, I cajoled and fawned over S and was able to wrangle my way to one more seidel, after which we had to get going. Never underestimate the power of fawning.

Whilst I'm no Saint Michael, I do evangelize to get thee over and give this beer a try.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Is Resistance Futile?

You're one of those people who don't go with the flow. Unless it's from a beer tap.

You secretly take the 3000 mile route to get gas when your tank's full.

Craft beer? You've been drinking it for 30 years. At least.

You've had a HP 200LX, a Palm Pilot, Palm III, the first cellphone running Windows Mobile, a Tilt and now a Palm Pre or Nexus.

And you've been resisting an iphone, the Borg of mobile computing, the macro-lager of hand-helds, for as long as there's been iFools.

Oh, you've been wistfully looking at all the apps on iTunes, all right. Most useless, but a few really sweet.

And you don't usually admit, but down, deep down, you've been secretly yearning to have all that too.

At what point does the balance tip, you tumble and become assimilated?

Don't just give in but resist. It's in your nature to be a leader.

First, have a look at your needs. Like where to find Kulmbacher Eisbock on tap, right now.

Like to travel and explore new bars and restaurants and meet new people? Can you tell Thai from Vietnamese? Well there's something here now that will help. Check out Zagat nru. Only for Android™ phones.

For those times when you need a little augmented reality.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Ahhh. Just One More Class Tonight

Have a class to head off to in a few minutes?
There's still plenty of time to enjoy a Kulmbacher Eisbock.

Now, this isn't quite the one you had a few years ago--the one with the holographic label that after 1/2 a glass had you thinking you were on the holodeck--canoodling with Deanna Troi. This one: a more recent vintage that comes in a bit under 10.

Still packing a damned nice kick though.

It's mighty tasty and brings back plenty of pleasant memories--about how lucky you are to be a recipient of great beer.

Hey: If someone gives you beer, thank them and enjoy it.


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

How to Enjoy San Francisco Beer Week

My love waits there in San Francisco
Above the blue and windy sea
When I come home to you, San Francisco,
Your golden sun will shine for me!

I bet Tony Bennett didn't have a beer tap spouting a golden-hued brew in mind when he wrote those lyrics.

But apt they are as the 2nd annual SF Beer Week kicks off in San Francisco this Friday February 5.

The San Francisco Beer Week iphone app from BlueHaze Inc. caught my eye as this is a nice manifestation of what's possible in mobile computing for events like this.

This app lets you know the schedule of events all through the week and when and where each event is to take place. Further, you can share photos snapped at event locations with other users. Of course there's a twitter stream available inside the app as well (sfbeerweek)

NYC and Philly Beer Week: Are you checking this out? And while you're at it, improve on this: Add real-time taplists, a way to see how crowded the venues are, and where a certain beer can be had. Or: take what NYC Craft Beer Week had in their pamphlet and translate it to an iphone app and go from there.

I may just hope on a plane this weekend...

Monday, February 1, 2010

Arrrrr.... Damenti's Ice Bar

I'm always on the lookout for cool bars, so me and the S.A.M. intrepid sailed into ice-locked Damenti's Ice Bar on Friday night after work to check out the bar and some icy beverages. Seeing how this bar is only three minutes from home, how could I resist?

Sliding inside we discovered that this bar sports two (not one!) serving bars to the left and right of the one and only door. Each bar-top is a very slick six inches of clear ice and about 12 inches wide. No stools. A nice touch.

I wonder how thick an ice bar has to be before it's safe to walk on?

Artificial turf on the ground keeps the `ol tootsies warm--or as warm as can be expected inside an igloo when it's 8 degrees outside and 20 inside. Grog was being served as were a selection of beers and other refreshments.

The elongated igloo is maybe 30 feet long and 10 feet wide formed entirely from ice blocks perhaps 8" x 8" x 16". Those are air conditioners on the ceiling--you know, for when it gets to be warm inside. And that's a grog guitar on the bar if you're wondering. And what's a grog guitar? Well, I'm told that when you're out building grand edifices or sailing around the world pirating, grog is what keeps the crew in line. The guitar is of a special ice-design where the crew's ration of grog is poured into one end and drank from the other. It works--I saw it in action.

The ice sculptures adorning the walls inside were sculpted, okay ground out, using electric grinders by Kevin McDonald (Captain) and his crew. He places a pattern on the surface of the ice and removes ice outside the pattern's form. One end of the structure has a scary skull sculpted into it.

After about 30 minutes inside, we began to move at a glacial pace and knew it was time to raise a grog salute to Kevin and his masterpiece. (Now I know where groggy comes from.) We dropped a couple bucks at the door as a donation to the American Cancer Society--1/2 the drink proceeds go to the American Cancer Society too.

Dead Men Sculpt No Ice! Now that's something to live by.

The Ice Bar opens every night at 5:00 pm. Damenti's is at 870 N Hunter Hwy, in Mountain Top PA. Put another way, it's on route 309 about one mile north of the 309/I-80 junction, at the top of the hill, on the left. You can't miss it.