Monthly Archives: December 2013

Grey Lodge Pub

Grey Lodge Pub 12/24/13

Grey Lodge Pub Bar
Grey Lodge Pub Bar

I recently had the pleasure of meeting up with a dear friend and fellow beer lover at the Grey Lodge Pub in Northeast Philadelphia. It’s been many moons since I last visited the Lodge and I was looking forward to seeing what was new. The transformation this establishment has gone through over the past 15+ years has been remarkable.

When I first visited it was a neighborhood bar with good beer on tap, a fun quiz night during the week, red vinyl booths, stained drop ceilings and a pretty pathetic food selection – think pizza made in a toaster oven. Now the place is a destination beer spot and made my Geekybeergal Philadelphia Pub Crawl list. The owner took over the second floor and put in a real kitchen and a full veggie and meat lover menu is now available. The drop ceilings have been replaced with wood ceilings, gone are the vinyl booths and now there are nice communal wooden tables.

One of the best things about The Grey Lodge Pub has remained the same – FIRKINS! Besides the beers on tap they always offer at least 1 or 2 Firkin beers. If it’s Friday the 13th than it’s the Firkinteenth! The firkins take over the bar and the beer flows from early morning to late night. Worth trying at least once in your beer life.

IMG_0530
Firkins

On this particular visit the firkins were Evil Genius Naughty or Nice and Iron Hill Winter Warmer. Between the beers I ordered, samples from the bartender and tastes of my friend’s beers I was able to taste many of the beers on tap. The bartender was very nice about providing samples since she didn’t know her beer. Which was the one disappointment this particular visit.

Usually the bartenders know their stuff here, as does the owner, but this particular person didn’t and at least she was honest about it instead of trying to BS her way through things. It would have also been nice if she paid a bit more attention to wiping down the bar after the patrons left.

Merry Maker Gingerbread Stout
Merry Maker Gingerbread Stout

I started with a pint of Sam Adams Gingerbread Stout…
Merry Maker Gingerbread Stout, Boston Beer Company (Sam Adams), MA 9%
What intrigued about this beer was instead of being a winter ale that it was a stout. The color is baked gingerbread with a nice creamy head. The nose of the beer lets you know before it hits your mouth that you’ll being enjoying gingerbread baked with molasses and the traditional holiday spices of cinnamon and nutmeg. All of these flavors pop in your mouth upon tasting the beer, as well as, a bit of bitter chocolate. There’s a lot going on but is not overpowering and the beer is self is a medium bodied stout and not as robust as one might think it will be. Over all very enjoyable holiday beer.

Next up was the…
Founders Oatmeal Stout, Founders Brewing, Michigan 4.5%

Founders Oatmeal Stout
Founders Oatmeal Stout

This stout is nice rich dark brownish/black with not much of a head.  It has, what I lovingly refer to as, that burnt bitter bakers chocolate taste. This might sound off putting to some but I love it. There is a nice balance of oatmeal and creamy nuttiness.  It’s a lighter body stout that goes down smooth and easy. A gentle beer for consumption.

 

I ended with a 8oz pour of…
Naughty or Nice, Evil Genius Beer Company, PA 5.7%

Evil Genius Naughty or Nice
Evil Genius Naughty or Nice

Deep brown ale with a light tan head. One can definitely taste the dark fruits and winter spices in this beer. It has a nice creamy body that finishes dry and just a hint of bitterness at the end.

I’m glad I had the pleasure of visiting The Grey Lodge Pub and catching up with a dear friend.

Tidbit of Trivia for you – The Grey Lodge is named after the Lodge in the David Lynch TV classic Twin Peaks.

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Christmas in NYC

Rockefeller Tree
Rockefeller Tree

12/21/13

Every Christmas season, since I was a kid, I go into NYC to visit the Christmas Trees of all Christmas Trees at Rockefeller Center. If you’ve never done this before I highly recommend adding it to your list of things to see in your life time. There is something magical about the Tree.

Over the years my NYC Christmas tradition has grown to include the shops at Bryant Park and a beer or two at my favorite beer place in NYC, BXL Café. This year I decided to try something new and check out the massive display of Christmas decorations at Rolf’s German Restaurant while enjoying a German beer.

Well, my companion and I didn’t realize just how popular Rolf’s display was until we reached the restaurant and discovered a 2 hour wait just to have a drink at the bar. As much as I love German beer and wanted to see the decorations there was just no way I had the patience to stand 2 hours in line to do either of those things. So off we went and started the short trek back to the subway station when we came across TapRoom307 and their slogan No Crap on Tap caught my eye. We glanced at the food (veggie and meat friendly) and beer menus and decided this was the place to plant ourselves for a bit.

TapRoom307 has a pleasant atmosphere that is designed to allow friends to gather and hang out for a while. The bar is long and booths line the walls while long communal tables run the down the center of the establishment. The decor is rustic/wood and very warm and inviting. The only downside sound carries and at times the noise level can make it a bit hard to carry on a conversation.

Since there were 40 beers on tap and I didn’t plan on spending too much time at the Tap Room I decided the best beer route for me to take was a Flight, 4 beers for $12. I decided to try four beers very different from each other.

Weihenstephaner Vitus, Weizenbock, Germany 7.7%
From start to finish this beer was a joy to drink and very refreshing as well. It pours an orange/yellow color with a nice white head. Several flavors mix around as you drink this beer including citrus, banana, cloves and coriander all mixed with a sweet malty aroma.  I couldn’t have asked for a better beer to accompany my lunch, kale salad with citrus vinaigrette.

Prelude Special Ale, Winter Warmer, Shipyard Brewing, Maine 6.7%
This beer has a nice dark amber color to it with a tannish head. It’s a descent winter ale that has a nice nutty flavor to  and a subtle hops ending.  The winter spices are not overwhelming as some winter beers can be. In fact, I would never guess it was a winter ale from tasting it but rather a descent amber ale.

Jolly Pumpkin Noel de Calabaza, Belgian Strong Ale, Michigan 9%
First thought – a Christmas Tree just exploded in my mouth. It has a woody pine taste to it mixed with dark fruit tartness and holiday spices. A small pour of this particular beer was enough for me, I could not imagine drinking a full tulip glass of it. I mixed it with a wee bit of the Harpoon Chocolate Stout and that helped to mellow the flavors out. I enjoyed the combination of the two. Remember to experiment!

Harpoon Chocolate Stout, American Stout, Harpoon Brewery, Massachusetts 5.9%
This beer pours black and has a nice frothy head. The roasted malts take a bit of a back seat to the sweetness of the chocolate and vanilla. The sweetness was a bit overpowering for my taste and mixing with the Jolly Pumpkin helped to cut it. It’s a decent stout but isn’t going to make my top 10 list.

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Left to Right: Jolly Pumpkin, Harpoon Stout, Vitus, Prelude
Bryant Park
Bryant Park

Once we finished up at the Tap Room we headed back up town and to Bryant Park and my favorite BXL Café. BXL is in close proximity to Bryant Park, Times Square, Port Authority and Rockefeller Center but is NOT touristy at all. Several years ago a dear friend and I were on 43rd headed toward Rock Bottom Brewery when out of the corner of my eye I spotted BXL and we decided to stop in there first. We never made it to Rock Bottom that day. BXL is a wonderfully small intimate bar with a couple of small tables, for two, in the front window area and about a dozen tables in the back for eating. There are several TVs in the café and usually they have on European football. The menu is on the small side but has something for everyone and being a Belgium restaurant there’s a nice selection of mussel dishes to choose from. Of course, the main reason I go is the beer. All Belgium or Belgium style beers are on tap and there’s a nice bottle selection as well. At least 90% of the time the beer is served in the appropriate glass which I just love.

BXL Cafe
BXL Cafe

On this visit I decided to enjoy one of my favorites….

Chimay Spéciale Cent Cinquante, Bières de Chimay S.A 10%
How much do I love Chimay? I once had a special, special cat named Chimay. The color of this ale is a beautiful copper with a nice white head. The balance of the spices with the yeast and citrus is just a perfect blend. There’s a nice undertone of peppers with the malt and a crisp dry finish. Chimay never fails to bring a smile to my face.

For this particular visit I had planned on enjoying just this one special beer but then I found out they had Delirium on tap and well…you guessed it….I had to have one.

Delirium Tremen, Brouwerij Huyghe, Belgium, Belgian Strong Ale 8.5%
YUM! This ale pours a nice golden color and has a nice steady stream of bubbles. It’s a bit more carbonated than I usually like but for some reason that doesn’t bother me. The taste is a delicate balance of lemon, apples, honey and just a slight hop essence and is a very crisp and clean beer that finishes dry.

Delirium Tremens
Delirium Tremens
Chimay
Chimay

After the Delirium my beer adventures for the day had come to an end and it was time to make our way back to the Port Authority. It was another successful Christmas visit to NYC.

Rattle N Hum, NYC

www.rattlenhumbarnyc.com

I’ve heard good things about this place and like their slogan “40 beers on tap and none of it crap” so decided to try it out earlier this year. It’s located within walking distance of Madison Square Garden so it’s a perfect place to stop for a pre show/sporting event beer.  The atmosphere is super casual beer bar, nothing fancy, dark and lots of wood. The menu is true bar food.

I decided to go for the taster round so I could try more and since the tastes were only 4oz each I made myself go outside my comfort zone on some of them.

Here we go…
Southern Tier 2 x Stream 8%
Very clean, clear beer with strong citrus flavors and so crisp I believe it snaps when you drink it.

Weihenstephaner Hefe 5.4%
Classic that was just perfect for the warm weather, always refreshing with just a hint of orange. True German wheat beer and I love my German wheat beers. Great summer beer. My none beer loving companion declared this one drinkable!

Peek Skill Simple Sour 4.5%
I’m not a big fan of sours but do enjoy a sip now and again. So went for it and glad I did. Essence of lemon and slight mustiness that comes with a sour beer. Slight malt character as well. It finished light which I appreciated instead leaving my mouth in a puckered state. If you’ve never had a sour I suggest this one as your first.

Boulder Mojo Risin Imperial IPA on Cask 10%
This was very outside the box for me since I’m not an IPA, let alone Imperial IPA, drinker but something about this beer intrigued me so went for it. Glad I tried it and glad it was only 4 oz. Citrusy grapefruit with floral hops and malt undertones. Since it was a cask the carbonation was minimal which helped tone down the hops in some weird way.

O’Hara’s Celtic Stout (Nitro) 4.3%
Ummm, YUM! Pours rich and dark and has a wonderful mocha head. Lots of roasty caramel goodness going on with this beer. Since it’s an Irish stout it’s not heavy and is easily drinkable in warmer weather.

Breckenridge 72 Chocolate Stout 7.2%
Really nice cocoa and caramelized malt flavors with a very creamy texture. Slight coffee undertones but finishes slightly, very slightly sweet and leaves one feeling warm fuzzy as one does when drinking scotch.

Two Brothers Northwind Imperial Stout 8.5%
Easy to drink, medium body with not a lot of carbonation. Nutty/roasty aroma with a touch of mocha. None of the flavors (chocolate, coffee, nutty) are overwhelming and stand out but all blend together.

Firestone Walker Walkers Reserve Porter 5.8%
Vanilla is what hit me first with a slight taste of smokey hops which caught me off guard but I enjoyed. Also, slight cherry tasty. Almost like a chocolate covered cherry but not sweet. Similar to an oatmeal stout in consistency. Very delicious. (I had a chance to visit Firestone Brewery when I was out in CA visiting the San Luis Obispo wine country. My companion I came across Firestone winery and saw they had also started a small brewery. At the time they only brewed 2 beers and they were only available on tap at 2 or 3 places in Santa Barbara. It’s amazing how they have grown.)

I highly recommending stopping in for a beer or two next time your in the city!

Philadelphia Pub Crawls

Looking to spend a day or two checking out the beer scene in the city of Brotherly Beer? Following is a list of suggested Pub Crawl destinations for Philadelphia broken up by neighborhoods. This is just Geeky Beer Gals suggestions for possible Philly Pub Crawls. YES, there are a lot of good beer bars in Philly but I tried to keep the list to exceptional beer places. So if you don’t see one on the list it could mean:
a. I didn’t know about it or
b. it’s good but not exceptional

I haven’t  tried each place personally, a number of them but not all of them. However, I trust my beer team with their recommendations.

Have fun tasting your way through the city of Brotherly Beer.

Old City –
Eulogy
Khyper Pass
Race Street Café
Bier Stube
Mac’s Tavern

Art Museum District (one of my favorite beer destination areas)
Bridgid’s
London Grill
The Bishop’s Collar
The Belgian Café (LOVE this place)
St. Stephen’s Green
Kite & Key

Fish Town
Kraftwork (wonderful!)
Frankford Hall (German beer hall)
Interstate Draft House
Johnny Brenda’s

Kensington (for this area don’t plan on it being a walking pub crawl)
Philadelphia Brewing Company
Memphis Taproom (one of my favorite places in the city)

Northern Liberties
Yards Brewery
Standard Tap
The Foodery
The Abbaye (another top favorite)
Blind Pig
Jerry’s Bar
Barcade

Center City
Monk’s Café
Nodding Head
Jose Pistola’s
Strangelove’s
Tria
Bru
Fergie’s (made the crawl because of the bottle list)

University City
City Tap House
Local 44
Dock Street Brewing
Mad Mex (Mexican Restaurant with great tap list)

Spring Garden
Llama Tooth
Prohibition Tap Room
The Institute

Graduate Hospital Area
Resurrection Ale House
Side Car Café
Ten Stone
Tangier

Random Great Beer Bars
Brauhaus Schmitz (German bar South Street)
Devil’s Den (South Philly/Italian…Market great cozy atmosphere)
Grey Lodge Pub (Mayfair…an oldy but still a goody)
Vargabar (Washington Square area)