Saturday, July 31, 2010

Dry, dry dry

The Potomac and Shenandoah rivers near Harpers Ferry were mighty low. They don't appear dissimilar to a rocky, arid, lunar landscape. There were cars parked along the road along the river, and tubers, rafters, and such at pulloffs. I can't imagine there being enough water to enjoy these activities.

After this, we passed over the Appalachian Trail on I64 towards Afton Virginia on the way to Blue Mountain Brewery. Passing through at about 7 pm with evening daylight playing on the mountains, the blue tint was unmistakable. I always thought NEPA had the prettiest scenery but this area gives us a run for the money.

Maryland deTours

Frederick Maryland is home to Flying Dog and Brewer's Alley Restaurant and Brewery.

Frederick is an old colonial town and one of its claims to fame is for being the burial place of Francis Scott Key. The confederate troops also marched through here on their way to Gettysburg.

Flying Dog was a near miss except for a photo at the brewery. That's enough to make any `ol dog bark, eh? I'm presuming there's a hidden grain elevator in there.

There was a small patch of hops growing on a side patio--not nearly enough for even a 5-gallon batch but hey, it's a conversation starter for sure.

We met a woman leaving for the day and we learned tours are on Saturday--but no tasting afterward. Flying Dog is unsure of the legality of having tastings as there is no specific state law in Maryland that allows or prohibits doing so. She said that sometime soon there would be word one way or another on the policy. Call the brewery for details before you take this deTour.

Brewer's Alley

Brewer's Alley has an entrance on an alley but that's the only connection with there ever having been an alley-way in Frederick with a cluster of breweries along it.

This fine old building housing the brewery/restaurant was the city hall for a while and then an opera house.

This archway beckons as the entrance to beervana.

Inside the tap room, wonderful coffered-marble ceilings supported by massive columns, reach almost to the heavens. I mistook the building for an old bank before I knew better!

The bar is a very well maintained U-shaped design--legs of the U are about 12 feet long and the base of the U is about 20-25 feet long. The bar top of oak is crowned with a slick bull-nose bar rail detail. The back bar is a stubby peninsula containing liquor and such. Taps are arrayed on the back of the front bar--a set on each side of the U.

The brewery is to the left as you walk into the tap room. There was brewing activity when I was in but I took a vow of silence on what was in the works.

Everything on draught save for an Old Dominion Root Beer and a cider, seemed to be Brewer's Alley own beers.

I chose the India Pale Ale which was the silver medal winner in the English-Style India Pale Ale Category for 2010. I can see why it won a silver medal as it's very English: proper, polite, and dry-humored.

There was a Resinator beer on cask coming in at a strong 9.8% ABV, and it resonated all right, just not at my frequency which tuned to try other beers this day.

This place is easily within driving distance of NEPA so it wouldn't be bad for a day trip.

Catoctin Valley

The section of i15 that passes near the Catoctin valley is as gorgeous as when the same highway passes north of Billtown (Williamsport). Once the Catoctin valley extends north beyond the Virginia border it becomes the Middletown valley but historically even this section has been called the Catoctin valley.

Friday, July 30, 2010



here we are.

It's a beeeee-you-teeee-full day in PA and we're in Pennsylvania's capital, Harrisburg (don't hold governmental corruption against the brewery, please[!]), and home to Troegs brewery and their magnificent Troegenator® Double Bock, the gold medal winner in the German style bock category of the 2010 World Beer Cup.

the last time i had this great brew was out of a bottle.

in the winter.

cooled in the snow.

in the middle of an engine swap of BroJ's Focus.

Good then on draught in a pint. Better now.

Best part of every day.

Beer de Tour

This is the day we hit the road to sample World Beer Cup brews and world famous barbecue.

Disconnected points shall be reachable by transporter. Or just imagined.

View Larger Map

Friday, July 23, 2010

Hey Tazio, what's in the Beer Meister?

weeeeelllll, let's see....

Verrastro's had a wonderful selection of beers in the cooler--the likes of which I haven't seen here in a long time. Props fellows.

Even with so many choices, selection came quickly with two Pennsylvania ales that have not yet graced the Beer Meister's icy environs.

First came Weyerbacher Verboten Belgian-style Pale Ale. Pleasantly different and simply wonderful tasting and refreshing--a perfect summer beer to me buds. Zeer goed!

The second sixtel came from Stoudt's, to my understanding, represented in this cooler for the first time.

Their flagship brew: American Pale Ale. This is a swirling cascade of 4.8% ABV summertime fun. Very session-able in a very colony sort of way, really. Eggggggggggggsalenttttttttttt!

N.B.: A stop at Stoudt's in Adamstown is a must if you're in the neighborhood, although it's been a while since I've been there.

N.B.^2: Ruminating on the pleasures of the walk-in cooler in the summer engages the mind with thoughts of a perfect escape: A night spent in the beer cooler with a parka and tap. Glassware? Definitely not necessary on this primitive adventure!

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act: Traffic nightmares on I81 we can all believe in.

Slimey the Imposter

Zymurgy detailed a Russian River Brewing Company Pliny the Elder clone recipe this month.

Quite a complex hop bill for this one even before substitution.

Props to Vinnie Cilurzo for the recipe.

Will be firing up the brew house later today and in honor of Pliny, will be closely observing the new brew kettle for a Vesuvian eruption. If I'm found buried in malt, you'll know what happened.


The End of History

Kudos to Brewdog for pushing the limits of acceptability.

$765 a bottle beer (Sadly, 700 out of my price range.)

I wouldn't have held back and used stuffed squirrels, though.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Rainy Day Thursday

T-Bone and I took a well deserved sunny 90 degree rain day Thursday in the Poconos.

To solve all sorts of world issues. (Government officials have been advised.)

And enjoy a few brews in the mid-summer heat.

We hit Barley Creek Brew Company (BC), The Gem and Keystone Brew Pub, and finished up at Pocono Brewing Company (PBC).

Easily the most interesting beers of the three was Shawnee Craft Brewing Company's at the Gem and Keystone Brew Pub. Although it must be noted that Barley Creek Brew Company and PBC are between brews as each only had a dark and light of their own on. Barley Crew was serving their Navigator Golden Ale and Antler Brown Ale--serviceable each, but just that. PBC had their Ball and Chain lager and light ale house beers on. Same: quenching but uninteresting.

Shawnee Craft beers at the Gem and Keystone on the other hand were a study in detail and craftsmanship.

We started with the Bière Blanche--although T-Bone wanted the Raspberry Blanche which was off. As refreshing, zippy, and zesty wheat as this one would be hard to find anywhere--except perhaps Belgium. Beautiful color and head, essence of lemon on the nose, and a delicious thirst quenching rush when drank. Being 90+ outside, I would say it's hard to find anything better when you want to cool off.

T-Bone had another Blanche for his second but I opted for the Double Pale traditional I.P.A.

Now, this is a 100% organic content beer and props to Shawnee for that. It comes in at 7.2 ABV/64 IBU so it's just about right for a double in this style.

The creamy off-white head (if I didn't know better I might say this beer was on nitro), imparts a distinctive hop aroma, which all us hop heads love, and it comes across clearly. But turned down a notch and more subtle. It's strength is in the middle somewhere between the usual piney/citrusy blast and having to squeeze your gizzard to discern it.

Different from most double I.P.A.s in this respect and a nice change from the ordinary.

But what makes this I.P.A. different is it's taste. Not as bitter as you would expect, with a clean and more neutral flavor profile. Some pine and citrus, but not too much to turn on the afterburners. There is a not-objectionable flavor somewhere in the middle which I could not place. This is an English I.P.A. that's been hopped up a wee bit. Very tasty indeed.

Beautiful lacing on the glass. All. The way. Down.

Shawnee Craft Brewing Beers are great and their trademark: Fidelis in naturam In artem fidelis™ roughly translated means: Faithful to nature. Faithful to craft.

True words indeed.

Beer-Can Chicken

Saw this short article on beer can chicken and it got me to think'n...

Wouldn't this taste great with Dale's Pale Ale? This is one boost we can all believe in, don'tcha think?

When I get in the mood for beer can chicken, I usually haven't planned ahead and end up scrounging for a Miller Lite. Ugh.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Thoughts on Camping in Potter Country

Got back last night after an eventful and fun camping trip out to Potter county.

Lyman Run State Park
Burnin' Barrel Bar
Route 6
Gas Drilling
Sylvain Restaurant
Dark Skies: Cherry Springs Stars-n-Parks Night
Hunting Lodges

As we raced a storm approaching from the west Friday night through Galeton and into Lyman Run State Park, we headed to the back of the park towards our campsite in the Daggett Run Campground and were immediately stopped by a park ranger. Access to the back of the park was blocked due to a snapped utility pole that had splayed it's wires across the road. The camp ranger told us the road wouldn't be passable for hours but there was a way around--it would take another 30 minutes or so with the last eight miles being a dirt road. Storm clouds gathering like crows around corn, we decided to give it a try: So, back to Galeton, west on Route 6 to just before the Sylvania Restaurant and left onto Rock Run Road.Here's the map from Route 6.

It started raining near the top of the mountain just before we reached the turn-off vista at the top. The view to the northwest was beautiful in a summer-fierce sort of way: the rain was falling heavily, no thunder or lightning, and the misty clouds hung over and between the valleys below. It reminded S and I of the weather conditions and view from the top of El Yunque. The only difference was El Yunque didn't have quite the majestic sweep of mountains in the distance.

The rain let up a bit as we pitched our tent but then it started to pour! And it continued to all Friday night into early Saturday morning. The only thing that got wet was my big toe!

Saturday dawned partly cloudy and by 9 the skies were mostly sunny with no humidity! What a great day for hiking!

We began our hike in Daggett Run Campground ascending Bee Hive Trail generally east and northeast following a small stream. Massive rocks were evident. Could they have been from previous glaciation from the Finger Lake region?

350 feet of vertical climb later we reached the summit at about 2100' where the trail leveled out and followed a mostly level ridge east and north through a nice stand of Hemlock. When we reached the intersection with Wildcat Trail we took it south for the trip back down the mountain through Wildcat Hollow. (Continuing on Bee Hive Trail would have eventually brought us out to Rock Run Road.) Large Cherry and Oak were everywhere along the way--the oldest perhaps 150 years old.

We eventually snagged Wildcat Connector (which is really Rock Run Road) and after about two minutes picked up Spur Line Trail on the right. This is easy hiking along an old rail bed reminiscent of the spur off of Mountain Springs: Old Railroad Grde except that the railroad ties were still in evidence through the shallow layer of topsoil. This short trail ended when it ran into Rock Run Trail which travels south and ends at the main park road. Across the main park road we joined Lyman Run Trail down to the Lyman Run. There were trout fry in clear evidence in the stream, it being an anglers paradise. Or so I am told.

We followed the cool creek environs back to the lake to inspect the dam. The earthen dam was three years old, cost 19M and had an interesting zig-zag design that effectively increases the width of the spillway by three times upon it being breached. This isn't a dam for flood control but recreational purposes.

The park facilities were in excellent condition. The restrooms were only three years old having been constructed at a cost of 1M each. They are of ``green'' design with on-demand water heating, automatic on/off faucets and toilets, low-flow shower heads, sky-lights, and the like. There were two stainless steel sinks on the outside for cleaning camping gear. If you visit in early July look for the blueberry bushes around the one in Daggett. Deeeeeeeeelicious!

Extra-curricular Activities
Sylvania Restaurant
Home cooking! Need I say more? S had liver and onions and I had beer-battered Haddock with hand-cut french fries and excellent cole-slaw. Deeeeeeeeeelicious! Mounted African game like Wildebeest, Springbok Antelope, Zebra, and various other species of Antelope adorn the back dining room. We came to find out that the owner is a big-game hunter who goes to Africa every other year. Ace Ventura wouldn't be thrilled by the display but we sure were! Hilde waited on us and made our dining experience very enjoyable. I would definitely stop here again for lunch or dinner.


Driving home we wanted to experience Route 6 a bit more so we came farther east before heading south. Along the way, we passed through lovely Wellsboro, PA. What an enchanting and vibrant downtown! S remarked that there must not be a Mega-Lo-Mart in town--sure `nuff, just googled it and there isn't! I could absolutely live in a town like this.

Gas Drilling
Bradford County farther east on Route 6 was sprinkled with Marcellus Shale field gas drilling sites along both sides of the road. Some wellheads were already established and operating (of interest to the anarchist: the sites are monitored remotely via video camera), while others were in various states of drilling. It's a shame how most seemed to be set up on five-odd acre bare earth sites carved out of what was once prime farming land. You knew you were coming to a site as there were flag-men situated in both directions to direct traffic--presumably for the heavy equipment being transported in and out of the site.

Now I understand where the multitude of tank trucks we passed heading west were going. They must have been carrying the mysterious ``fracking fluid'' to the drilling fields. I sure hope county and state leaders are accounting for the added abuse to the Route 6 roadway surface! It would be a shame to have it turn into a pothole ridden cow-path due to the heavy truck traffic.

Route 6
Route 6 was once the longest highway in the US extending all the way from Massachusetts to California. It's two-lanes in PA and not like I-80 or I-81 with limited access--it passes through most of the small towns it encounters in PA.

Route 6 is well known to be an excellent route for bike tours. Passed hundreds as we traveled to and fro. It's easy to see why: The hills are rolling, the scenery is breathtaking, and the pace is bucolic with a speed limit of only 55.

The abundance of non-chain motels along the way, especially the farther west you travel through Tioga and then into Potter counties, hearkens back to a bygone era before the interstate system was in full tentacle. I would LOVE to travel this route sometime (by motorcycle preferably) all the way to its terminus in California.

Burnin' Barrel Bar
Ah, the good stuff. After hiking along the western rim of Pine Creek Gorge in Colton Point State Park Saturday afternoon, we had worked up a fierce thirst and knew there was a place down along Route 6 near Ansonia that we spotted on the way in that boasted of 18 beers on tap. Harley's® parked out front and a family getting in their car portended to something perhaps a cut-above inside. Or perhaps a bar fight. Happily the former turned out to be the case.

Inside to the right was a very nice ess-shaped bar with a bar-top built from cherry. The back-bar area was knotty pine befitting a bar alongside Pine Creek. There were about 16 stools at the bar and tables were arrayed along the front of the room and to the left of the bar. The place was occupied by a bunch of nice bikers enjoying a late lunch on a lazy Saturday afternoon and the Tour de France coverage glowed from two flat-screens. I guess the Harley® races weren't on and this was next best watch for a bunch of bikers!

Three six-handle towers proffered a plethora of fine beers including some local beers from the Bullfrog Brewery and Bavarian Barbarian (Hammerin' Ale) in Williamsport; something from the Great Lakes Brewing Company in Cleveland; a couple of Sam Adams beers (Summer of Sam and Cherry Wheat); a couple Sly Foxes; A Magic Hat; Lager® and a small stable of macro-lagers. I opted for the superb Lake Erie Monster which was a kick-ass grapefruit kick-ass revelation! S chose the Sam Cherry Wheat which I sipped and found overpowering in the cherry flavor--perhaps even a bit more than the last time I had this in Jake's. S liked both beers which is itself a tribute to her burgeoning good taste, and ordered a Lake Erie Monster for her second. My first went down like I was mad, and for my 2nd I opted for the DREAD Double Red Ale from Bullfrog Brewery. It was pretty strong but didn't have quite the hop-gasmic aroma as claimed. Still a great beer though and it left me wanting to try a few more from them.

We didn't have anything to eat but the home-made, hand-cut french fries looked and smelled fabulous from across the bar.

This is not a biker bar but a bar where bikers happen to stop along with any type of wayward traveler. I will stop by again when I pass through on my cross-country trip.

Hunting Lodges

Ah...the hunting lodge. Potter county is full of them once you turn off of Route 6 and start on the back roads. They definitely brought back a flood of old memories... That place the X-chromosome types ne'r wander. A place where stories are told over beer the night before opening day--young pups reverentially listening wide-eyed to tales of 400 pound beasts and tracking wounded deer for miles to deliver fatal lead medicine. Of 300 yard killing shots from eagle-eyed wizards of the gun sights who take into account humidity and wind direction before squeezing. The wafting smells of bacon and eggs and strong coffee that wake and greet the hunters hours before dawn. The place to escape to every year with like-minded men for that short period of early December.

Dark Skies: Cherry Springs Stars-n-Parks Night
We drove out to Cherry Springs State Park before dark on an almost cloudless Saturday night to participate in the Stars-n-Parks program. As you may or may not know, Cherry Springs is noted for it's Dark Skies--that is, it's located away from light pollution affording a great place to star-gaze. Some claim it has the darkest skies east of the Mississippi river.

This program is held a few times a year and serves as an introduction to astronomy for the general public. There are volunteer amateur astronomers present with their telescopes set up and they describe and lead ordinary people in having a look at the heavens. I can tell you, unless you've been out west, you won't see skies like this anywhere else in PA.

Friday, July 9, 2010


Looking forward to going camping for the weekend out in Potter County.

Dark Skys are in the forecast but not the clear kind! :O(

Googled State College--it's only 96 miles from camp.

A side trip on Sunday....

Gotta get back to writing some more on here!

The beer drinking never stopped, but the writing sure did...

Hop Hogwash

J suggested and on further reflection, it could be that the Hop Hog we had from the bottle, was mislabeled and really some sort of amber lager.

I have one bottle left: anyone care to take it down to Lancaster for analysis? :O)

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Hop Hog

Last week J brought over a six-pack of Lancaster Brewing Company's Hog Hog India Pale Ale.

This week I've been enjoying a bottle (or two) as I work on the backlog of tasks around the house.

Let's just say it's been slow going.

And I've had some time to think about taste.

Initially I couldn't put my finger on what was so familiar about the amber brew--there was something in its taste that I had tasted before.

And then it struck me that the taste was reminiscent of almost all of the Stegmaier beers from the Lion Brewery.

Hop Hog from the bottle displays the same house character as those beers, hence, having tasted the beer on draught in Lancaster, it's not the same beer from the bottle as it is from the brewery in Lancaster!

I may have to get a growler from Lancaster and another six-pack and do another taste test.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Asimov and Friends and Pale Ales

L kindly forwarded a link to this good article on an American Pale Ale tasting.

The last of these I had was the Sierra Nevada which in agreement with Eric and Friends I wasn't super-impressed with either.

Nice to see a few PA beers were liked.

On the First Day of My Summer Vacation

I went downtown, to look for a beer.