Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Hop along with Counsel.

A weekend trip to Cambridge, Mass took Counsel  hither and yon, beer-wise.
Is there such a thing as perfect pub?  I pondered this as we visited a few of the beerhalls of Cambridge this past weekend. All had their good points and not so good. Having recently visited Armsby Abbey in Worcester, which i would consider for my local if it wasn't a two-hour drive away, i had high hopes, visions really,  of a comfortable, broken-in, not overly snobbish spot where the beer is transcendent, the food local and easy to like, and the staff friendly and knowledgeable  without being snooty about it.  Yes, Armsby is  a bit fern-bar-ish in decor, and it is in Worcester, but the food and the incredible beer list, not to mention the excellent staff, tip the goblet in its favor. 
First off, we visited Bukowski's in Inman Square. Initial vibe-- not so good.  Trying way too hard to be a dive. Low aspirations, and anyway, dive status is earned, not fabricated.  Expensive as hell-- pretty good list, though were the misspellings intentional? Too many IPA's among the 15 or so beers on tap.  No. 6 Son and I enjoyed the excellent Sierra Fresh Hop Ale (2009); Bim Skala Jim and the Real Blade delved into a Stone Levitation, also an excellent quaff and hard to come by on the east coast.  But... maybe it was the tattooed scenesters at the end of the bar, slugging 40-ouncers straight out of the bottle, that turned me off. Maybe it was the studiously bored bartender, who obviously thought we didn't meet the hipness quotient and didn't give us the time of day. Or maybe it was the smell of sewage drifting in off the street. In any event, we left after one beer with a bad taste in our mouths.
Across the street is the Druid, long-time Irish pub. Great-looking, quiet spot at 3 PM on a sunny Saturday in early fall.  Instantly comfortable. The beer list was uninspired-- featuring the Boston Irish standard pairing of Harpoon IPA and Guinness.  Decent but not overwhelming, thought the Guinness was really good, properly poured by the young Irish lad who paused from his texting just long enough to mumble a few words and take our cash. So much for the gift of gab. Is there such a catchphrase yet to cover fluency on a inch-square keyboard? Jaysus I hope not.
The next day, BSJ and I snuck out for a cheeky one at the Plough and Stars, a venerable spot on Mass Ave in Central Square.  A solid local, with a decent but not overly adventurish list.  We each had a Chimay, lovely and Belgian and not a typical offering, judging from my previous visits. An excellent band in the back, a few hipsters, a few professorial types. I'd drink there..
In their defense, the Druid and Plough are not trying to be beer meccas, just good solid pubs. Both succeed at this not so lofty, but nonetheless noble, goal. Bukowski's misses on both fronts.
If you did find the perfect pub, wouldn't  it be a letdown? Would the quest be complete? Would a burgeoning beer belly and the complacency of old age steal away the adventure of entering a new place,taking in its smells, its vibe, its chalk-scrawled runes-- the hope that there is always someplace better, a road trip away? I for one am enjoying the hunt.
Down in One.
 Emerging from the depths of hop-induced hysteria, this has been--

Monday, September 28, 2009

GABF 2009

Denver, Colorado - The Great American Beer Festival (GABF) Competition continued its record setting ways, crushing last year's entries by 16%. GABF remains the largest commercial beer competition in the world with 3,308 entries.

View the 2009 Winners List

The GABF competition attracted 132 international beer judges from ten countries. Award-winning brewers received prestigious gold, silver and bronze medals in 78 beer categories, establishing the best examples of each style in the U.S.

The most competitive category was American Style India Pale Ale with 134 entries. The gold medal went to Firestone Walker Brewing Co., Paso Robles, CA for Union Jack for the second straight year. The second most hotly contested category was Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Beer with 110 entries (up from 79 in 2008). The gold medal went to Arcadia Brewing Co., Battle Creek, MI for Cereal Killer Barleywine.

Great American Beer Festival 2009 Statistics

  • 457 breweries in the festival hall
  • 2,100 beers served at the festival
  • 49,000 attendees (includes brewers, volunteers and ticket holders)
  • 3,000 volunteers
  • 495 breweries in the competition
  • 3,308 beers judged in the competition
  • 78 categories judged + Pro-Am category
  • 132 judges from ten countries
  • Average number of competition beers entered in each category: 42
  • Category with highest number of entries: 134, American Style India Pale Ale

2009 Great American Beer Festival Official Sponsors

The SimpsonsDRAFT MagazineAnheuser-Busch
Coors LightMiller LiteMicrostar Keg Management
AM 760KBCO 97.3 FM103.5 The Fox

Thursday, September 24, 2009

La Barberie

In Quebec City, a trip slightly off the tourist's beaten path will take you to La Barberie. La Barberie is a microbrewery on rue Saint Roch, not far from the train station. The name comes from the long beard of one of the owners. While the accommodations are minimal, the beer is top notch. We tried the Double Chocolate Stout and the English pale ale. It was the best beer of the trip. At $5 a pint, the price was unbeatable as well.
La Barberie serves no food. You can order (via telephone) from any of the nearby food establishments and have it delivered. There is a binder on the bar that lists many of the more commonly used places.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

DUV listed NYSE

Duvel Moortgat has had a fine first six months. All brands see a rise in
turnover. In all markets where the brewery operates, a higher turnover is
quoted. Duvel Moortgat manages these performances despite the difficult
circumstances the beer market globally faces. Owing to the relentless
attention to quality throughout the years, the efforts and the enthusiasm of
her employees and a continuing cost control, the brewery has thus far
succeeded in minimising the impact of the economic and financial crisis.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sauv Blanc, huh?

Enjoy Troy. Well let me tell you I’ve tried. In fact in the last twenty years I have had occasion to visit Troy on nearly a daily basis, whether for education, work or pleasure. And let me say the irony of having to go to Troy for superior educational opportunities has never been lost on me, but I digress. Troy’s fine cultural attributes can also be saved for another day, because after all were here for the beer, and when ordered directly by the self proclaimed exalted ruler to seek out and try a new beer product found only in Troy, how could I refuse (well quite easily actually, but with a spare hour in he collar city, why not).

To break any suspense that may I may have inadvertently built in that snappy intro, the subject beer is Brown’s Brewing Aussie Hop Kicking Sauv Blanc Lager. Gotta say I wouldn’t go out of my way for this beer, oh yeah I already did. Now to be fair the beer is not awful. It is far more bitter than any commercial lager, with a hop level similar to many an IPA. And where they got the Sauv Blanc thing, well I suspect drinking may have been involved, but I just didn’t get it. Beyond the bitter there just isn’t much there. It has the very light golden color and plenty of carbonation, typical of a lager, so there again, not too bad. The problem is in the finish, it has the curse of the brew pub. What curse? That slightly icky taste (that’s professional speak for yucky) common to so many brew pub concoctions. It is that same off taste that follows many of Brown’s beers, and a lot of brew pub beers. The taste isn’t so noticeable in the Porters and Stouts whose heavy malts can mask the flavor, but it’s there none the less.

Brown’s is still worth a visit as their Pale Ale isn’t bad and their Harvest Ale is actually quite interesting. The freshness of the hops in the Harvest beer, with its locally grown and harvested flowers really shines. The downside for me is the sweetness of the malt. It dulls what might otherwise be an outstanding beer, were it a bit crisper it might be first class. Perhaps the Sierra fresh hopped ales have set too high a standard for me. The Harvest deserves an “A” for effort and is an approach to locally grown that really should be supported. That said Brown’s should be supported as well. It is a great space, though lacking some of the charm of the original Brown and Moran days and showing a bit of wear. Along with the adjacent Revolution Hall, Ryan’s Wake and Jose Malone’s Troy provides one of the few bright spots in the Capital District. And reportedly you can even get a good education in Troy, but I not so sure about dat.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Squealing Pig

For good beer, the place to go in Provincetown, MA is the Squealing Pig. Named after a pub in Ireland, the Squealing Pig has a quaint atmosphere and good food. The fresh, Wellfleet oysters and burgers were particularly tasty. Our beer of choice was the Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA on tap. A mandatory stop for the beer enthusiast. This one is from The Tower.


Don your lederhosen and grab your stein. Local microbrewers and beer afficianados will gather on 10/17 for the Lake George Brewers Oktoberfest,www.adkpub.comevents.htm to celebrate the season and the beverage of choice. There will be beer tastings, live German music and German food. Costumes are encouraged. The Oktoberfest will be held at the Windsor Court Motel in Lake George Village. All proceeds will benefit the Adirondack Red Cross.

Waffles & Puppets

Brewery Ommegang,, a Belgian-style brewery in Cooperstown, celebrates its 12th birthday with its annual Waffles & Puppets event, Oct. 10th. The fall foliage will be at its peak and the view of the Cherry Valley from the Brewery’s sweeping grounds is fantastic.. A puppet show and live music will keep the family entertained. Plus the kids can bob for apples and paint pumpkins. Indulge in Leige-styfle Belgian sugar waffles drizzled with Belgian chocolate sauce. And don’t forget the beer! Ommegang will officially release its new special winter ale Ommegang Adoration, brewed on the premises with exotic spices.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Aussie-brewed ‘sauvignon blanc lager’ now on tap at Brown’s

A grassy lager meant to remind drinkers of sauvignon blanc, which I wrote about in a story in late August, is newly available at Brown’s Brewing Co. in Troy. Dubbed Aussie Hop Kicking Sauv Blanc Lager, a 200-gallon batch of the beer was made a couple of weeks ago at Brown’s by Ross Kenrick, a homebrewer visiting from Brisbane, Australia, as part of an exchange with local homebrewers. Kenrick used rare New Zealand hops meant to evoke the wine varietal for which the beer is named.

Aussie Hop Kicking Sauv Blanc Lager is $4.50 per pint or $3.50 when it’s Beer of the Day at Brown’s, which it is today.

Brown’s Brewing Co. is located at 417 River St.

We need a review Landman.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Quadricentennial Dinner @ Marche

Quadricentennial Dinner
Saturday September 26, 2009
Cocktails beginning at 6:00pm with Dinner at 7:00pm
$74 per person excluding taxes and gratuities
$15 of the dinner price will be donated to
The Albany Institute of History and Art
Hors d’oeuvres:
Baked Oysters with Sweet Corn Pudding
Gouda with Spiced Apple-Onion Chutney
Turkey Comfit with Crispy Parsnips
Lamb Hutspot with Brioche Crouton
(Traditional Dutch stew served with bread)
Traditional Dutch Punches
1st Course
Fresh Seasonal Autumn Vegetable Salad with Herbed Vinaigrette
Rare Vos
2nd Course
Lightly Smoked Roasted Sturgeon with Butter-Braised Cabbage
3rd Course
Bacon-Wrapped Rabbit Loin with Nutmeg-Scented Asparagus
Biere de Mars
4th Course
Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Garlic-Apple Stuffing and Autumn Squash
Abbey Ale
5th Course
Warm Bread Pudding with Black Currants and Candied Quince
Three Philosophers
Call for (518)434-7410 for reservations and more information

Beantown Beers

Who needs Cambridge, England when Cambridge, Mass. is just a few hours away! The Harvard vibe is reminiscent of the U.K. university and the beers we sampled in the neighborhood just as good. First stop was the Cambridge branch of Back Bay’s Bukowski Tavern, located in Inman Square, which boasts upwards of 130 beers as well as some rotating specials. Named for the beat poet/barfly (yes, the Micky Rourke character was based on him), this former garage has doors which roll up to take advantage of the weather and is decorated with a mural of the author and his typewriter. There’s even a wheel of beer for those times you just can’t make up your mind (beware the tab for these surprise picks!) We only had time to sample one draft each with our lunches – cask-conditioned Dogfish 75 Minute IPA from Delaware and a BBC Lost Sailor IPA from Mass. – downed with the aptly named and very good Barfly Burger and California Burger. Bukowski’s is apparently well known for their peanut butter burger but couldn’t go there. The bar also has a Dead Authors Club which credits each beer toward an engraved mug for use at the bar (sound familiar?) so we will be back to try some of their Imperial Bottle series- especially looking forward to the 2006 Pripps Carnegie Porter from Sweden ($13.50). Followed up with a quick visit to the Druid a few doors down – very authentic Irish atmosphere and accents with a few select beers including Brooklyn Ale on tap.

Back in Boston proper we loved the food and atmosphere at several of chef Barbara Lynch’s restaurants – pasta shrine Sportello, downstairs hot spot Drink, where we sampled Gritty McDuff’s Pale Ale from Maine, and 9 Beacon, in a townhouse overlooking the Commons where the mixologists plied us with exotic cocktails as well as Brooklyn Local 2 and Fin de Monde. The food is fantastic at all three and the bartenders at the latter couldn’t be friendlier and more knowledgeable about their wares. They have assured us the beer selection will be expanding in the near future. A great place to spend an evening with your cocktail loving managing partners!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Beer, wing festival returning to Times Union Center

chicken-wingsThe second annual Capital Region Beer & Wing Festival will be held from 4 to 9 p.m. Friday, Sept. 25, at the Times Union Center on South Pearl Street in Albany. Admission ($25 in advance, $30 at the door) gets you a commemorative beer glass and samples of wings from at least a dozen-plus area restaurants and brews from growing list of more than 50 beer vendors. Suppliers list here.

To address complaints about last year’s event (too crowded, wings ran out), organizers have almost doubled the amount of space devoted to the festival, to 40,000 square feet; required 100,000 total wings be available; and limited ticket sales to 2,500. As a commenter below points out, that’s an average of 40 wings per person — a number the arena confirms.

Tickets go on sale Monday at the arena box office, online or at (800) 30-EVENT.

New York Craft Beer Week
We need a fleid correspodent to cover thisone.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

cambridge beer map:

Cambridge beer map: were to go in Camdridge, England from a man living on an Indian's Ledge

Chew It Up, Spit It Out, Then Brew. Cheers!

Published: September 9, 2009
The Dogfish Head brewery has tried to recreate the Latin American beer chicha, traditionally made with purple corn that has been chewed by the brewers.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Look what Andreea is drinking

Malheur Cuvee Royale This was a fantastic beer. First off, I had no ideaMalheur was also brewing bubble-beers. We tried theMalheur 6° way back when. And then this!
Absolutely great beer. I probably liked it so much as it kind of tasted like a beery champagne. Probably not what you would like from either a beer. Or a champagne. But it really works. (Remember the Deus?)
We tried the Malheur Cuvee Royale. A blond and sparkly beer, brewed according to traditional methods and at 9.2% close to ... well, champagne. Now all I have to do is try and locate the other Malheur bubbles, the Brut and the Dark Brut.