Monthly Archives: August 2014

Interstate Drafthouse

004Interstate Drafthouse Philadelphia, PA

This gal has been trying for some time to check out Interstate Drafthouse to no avail. I was beginning to think it wasn’t meant to be but indeed it was! I had added Interstate Drafthouse to my Philly Pub Crawl list (posted 12/13) fully trusting my Philly connection with the worthiness of the establishment to the list. Worthiness confirmed.

Located just a hop, skip and jump off Interstate 95 via the Gerard Avenue exit in the Fishtown section of Philadelphia, Interstate Drafthouse is a neighborhood bar that is also a destination spot. It really is smack in the middle of a neighborhood with easy off street parking. I would say from the looks of the building it was somebodies home in a prior life but fortunately for craft beer lovers it’s been converted into a great bar.

Upon entrance to the Drafthouse one is immediately standing in the bar area. The bar is to the right and few high top tables to the left. Walk back a little further and a step up to the dining area that consist of about 12 or so tables. Off the dining area is a cute little patio. Unfortunately, there was a summer rain storm taking place so a seat at the bar is where my companion and I found beer happiness.

009Interstate offers a warm, cozy environment with a good bar vibe feeling with an old style tin ceiling, lots of dark wood, holiday twinkle lights and hooks under the bar for umbrellas, purses etc., always a nice touch. Overall the place is a little kitchy but in a fun way. It reminded me of some of the neighborhood bars I’ve visited in New Orleans. It’s also a wee bit dark inside which can make reading the menu a tad difficult at times.  (flashlight app to the rescue). The owner is very welcoming and friendly as is the staff. They are also generous with beer tastings which is always a plus.

Not only does Interstate Drafthouse have a nice tap list, with a style for everyone, but they’re also very reasonably priced with great weekly deals! Happy Hour is offered Monday – Friday 4:30-6:30 with $4 Draft Beers. We happened to be there for Taco Tuesday $1 Tacos and $4 Beers ALL NIGHT – Sweet! Wednesday they offer a Beer and Meal for $10!

Veggie "Steak" Sandwich
Veggie “Steak” Sandwich

The food menu is pretty diverse with everything from gator to seitan on it. Another words both meat and vegetarian friendly with a fun Cajun/Creole influence to it. We started with the homemade guacamole which was spot on. My companion enjoyed a tasty brisket sandwich and this gal opted for a nicely done veggie “steak” sandwich. I hear the mac & cheese is lip smacking good.

As tasty as the food was the beer was even better…

As soon as I spotted an offering from Bullfrog Brewing I knew what my first beer of the night would be. Bullfrog Brewing holds a special place in this Gal’s heart. I use to visit it many moons ago on the way to and from vacationing in Western Pennsylvania. If you ever happen to be near Williamsport, PA (home of the Little League World Series) I strongly recommend, heck I insist you stop at Bullfrog Brewery for some beer and food. I’ve never had a bad experience there. Their beer put a smile on my face each and every visit.

Bullfrog Saison

Saison – Bullfrog Brewing
Blond Ale meets Farmhouse Ale. Classic Saison cloudy appearance with citrus, floral and enough tartness that it makes your mouthwater at the end but makes you want to go back for more

Next up…
Arcadia London Porter – Arcadia Brewing Company 7.2%
Well done English porter with a pleasant smokey nose. The flavor is a mix of roasted malts, bittersweet chocolate, coffee and just a touch of hops. A good true-to-style English Porter that ends with a  slightly bitter finish.  (favorite of the night)

Arcadia London Porter
Arcadia London Porter

Finished with the
Summer Solstice – Anderson Valley Brewing Company 5.% (cream ale)
Had I known it was a cream ale I probably wouldn’t have ordered it since I’m not a big fan of the style. However, the Summer Solstice has changed my opinion of cream ales. It’s as good blend of spices, malt and caramel that make it an enjoyable summer beer.

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Anderson Valley Summer Solstice

Sips of:
Dead Rise Old Bay Summer Ale – Flying Dog 5.6%
This ale is brewed with Old Bay Seasoning which intrigued me but sadly the taste did not appeal to me at all. It was just odd. I would be willing to try a small taster of it with some food. That combo may work but on it’s on just not for me.

 Pynk – Yards Brewing 5.5%
I was super excited when I saw the tap handle go on for this beer.  It’s a delightful berry beer.  I wasn’t in the mood for a full pint on this visit but could envision myself enjoying this little tart beauty on my deck one warm evening. I also could see myself mixing it with a chocolate stout since it’s so lambic like. Don’t forget Yards donates $1 from each case sold to the Tyanna Foundation, which provides support for the care and treatment of breast cancer patients.

Galatica IPA – Clown Shoes 8%
This Imperial IPA smells and taste very floral so much so I felt I was sipping on perfume. It was a bit much for me to handle. A true love for hops is necessary to enjoy this beer. That being said my companion enjoyed it.

Sapient Triple -Dark Horse Brewing Company 9.5%
Crazy smooth, easy to drink without the high alcohol feeling. Delightful banana and coriander flavors.  Would have loved a glass but no triples on this visit since I still had to get myself home.

005This Gal was very happy to finally be able to try Interstate Drafthouse and looks forward to returning for $4 Beers!

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Maine Part 3 – Oxbow Brewing

135Oxbow Brewing – Newcastle, Main

The exploration to Boothbay Brewing went so well that two days later the group decided it was time to go beer sampling again. My bro researched and found Oxbow Brewery was just around the other side of the lake we were staying on. A mere 15 minutes away! Five of us piled into the vehicle, we lost one of non-beer drinkers for this exploration, and headed out.

Oxbow specializes in Belgian-style ales that are brewed in a small renovated barn located in a pretty rural area. One would never know its back there and can easily drive past it. The sign out front on the roadside is small and easy to miss but luckily we spotted it. The minute the vehicle turned on the path to get to the brewery I knew I was going to be one happy gal. I think most places small and hard to find turn out to be hidden gems. Oxbow is just that – a true gem! Their slogan perfectly describes them “Loud Beer from a quiet place”. It’s the kind of place I could seeing bringing a book to enjoy while hanging out relaxing with an Oxbow beer or two.

131As we pull up the excitement in the group was growing. Right away we noticed picnic tables and corn hole for outside enjoyment. Off to the left of the path is some sort of wood shed that looks like it might have some use during events. Straight ahead is the tasting room – cute rustic shed and behind that is the brewing barn. All surrounded by woods.

Tasting Room
Tasting Shed

Upon entering the tasting room I fell in love with the place even more and I hadn’t even tried their beer yet! For a small establishment they have nailed it. From everything to the logo, tasting glasses, swag for sale, great customer service and the overall inviting environment for their guest to enjoy. The tasting area is small with a mini bar to order at and then you can either take your beers out front, out back or step down to the small room off the entrance area with 3 or 4 barrel tables to sit at.

170One can purchase a sample round, individual full glass pours or growlers. During our visit several locals stopped in to refill growlers. Always a good sign.  Of course, this Gal went for the sample round as did the other beer drinkers in the group. The staff working the tasting shed was very pleasant and helpful which always helps the experience be that much better.

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Order L to R

Personally, I love farmhouse style Belgian beers but realize they aren’t for everyone. Each beer drinker in the group did find at least one beer they liked. This Gal enjoyed just about all of them.

Loretta – Oxbow Brewing 4%
Refreshing blonde ale that begs to be enjoyed sitting outside on a lake shore of Maine. No one flavor dominates it’s just a very easy drinking beer.

Freestyle 25 – Oxbow Brewing 4.5% (Freestyle is the breweries creative outlet featuring beers only brewed once) Czech Red Ale style done well with toasted malts, floral tones and an unique hop flavor.

Farmhouse Pale Ale – Oxbow Brewing 6%
Right away one can pick up the saison yeast followed up by the hops with a pleasant array of spices and citrus flavors going on. It’s their flagship beer and understandably so – nice job.

171Grizacca – Oxbow Brewing 5%
Ummm, no. Not for me but my Bro’s fav of the bunch so much so he had a full class after the taster. It has an earthy grass essence to it followed by a wallop of hops.

Oxtoberfest 2013 – Oxbow Brewing 6%
This Gal’s fav of the bunch and the one I chose to have a full glass of after the taster. This beer wasn’t a fav for the rest of the group. In fact, most didn’t care for it but I found it to be very interesting and enjoyable. Good dry body with a smoky tartness. The sourness complimented the malts without being overwhelming.

139It’s safe to say this group will be visiting Oxbow again. Heck, even the non-beer drinker liked the brewery so much she bought a t-shirt from it, as did this Gal. I have to say it’s one of the comfiest t-shirts I’ve ever worn. Even their swag is top notch quality!

Nice job Oxbow!

Update July 2015: We recently revisited Oxbow and once again thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. It was amazing to see how the groups beer taste has grown and changed. Last year the Grizacca wasn’t for me but this year loved it – amazing. Has was everything else. I especially loved the Bowie. Also, the group enjoyed all the beers including the ones they weren’t too fond of last year. Yup, taste grow and change.

Catch this Gal talking about Oxbow on What’s On Tap beer show.

 

 

Maine Part 2 – Boothbay Brewing at The Watershed Tavern

097Boothbay Brewery at The Watershed Tavern

After a few days of kayaking and boating this Gal felt it was time to explore some more of Maine’s other great offering – BEER! Next tasting stop Boothbay Brewery at The Watershed Tavern. This particular exploration involved six of us including both beer and non-beer drinkers alike.

095We piled into two vehicles and were on our way until we had no clue where we were. Not one to give up I called to only find out we were a mere minute down the road from the brewery. I feel safe in saying many folk get lost on their way and the brewery is use to explaining how to find them. They are not far off the main road to Boothbay but at the same time one would never expect a brewery to be where they are. Once we arrived none of us could believe what we found. The brewery and attached restaurant are really plopped down in the middle of a back road surrounded by the beauty that is Maine. Not only is there the brewery and restaurant but several small cute cabins scattered about the property for rent. It’s a little slice of Maine heaven that is beautiful and welcoming.

The brewery itself was closed by the time we arrived so we wondered into the restaurant, The Watershed. When one walks in you feel like you entered a good friend’s rustic cabin that they built by hand using their own trees which is pretty much the case here. It’s warm, cozy and invites one to stay and enjoy.

079We decided to plop ourselves down at the bar which meant we took up most of the bar. There are only 8 stool/chairs around the bar. These seats are a piece of carved art with very high backs and extremely sturdy. Around the bar is a small booth and game table ledge with a couple of stools around it. The bar top is a beautiful piece of milled wood. OK, there is beautiful wood everywhere, walls, ceilings, beams, tables, chairs, tasting trays – all of it gorgeous! There is also a handsome brick fireplace in the bar area that I can only imagine ads to the cozy environment in the winter time.

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Bar Stool

Geeky Beer Gal’s Bro suggested we share a taster round since it include 6 large tastes and we were still pretty full from lunch. (there is also a 10 beer taster round) Two others in the party shared a flight as well. The two non-beer drinkers entertained themselves with tavern puzzles available at the bar for patrons to enjoy and drive themselves crazy with. The Watershed offers both beer and wine but no hard liquor. They do offer a few selections from other breweries, as well, such as Dogfish Head and Allagash.

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Order L to R

My being a malt person and my bro being a hop head made for a very interesting mix for our taster flight which consisted of:

633 Pale Ale – Boothbay Brewing 6.33%
A true pale ale and happens to be their flagship brew as well. This ale has some good quality malt tones that help counter balance the hops. Right away one can tell they are using American west coast hops which helps me to distinguish one pale ale from another. To me American West Coast hops are a breed unto themselves with a very distinct characteristics that sets these beers apart from the rest of the hop pack. The hop factor was a bit much for me so not a favorite but a very well done pale ale.

Ken Brown Tribute Ale – Boothbay Brewing 7%
Sweet malty goodness! This ale has a nice dark roasted coloring but the body is on the lighter side for a brown. Great mix of malts with accents of hops and a good nutty flavor. Enjoyable indeed.

Dexter “Rippa” Red IPA – Boothbay Brewing 6.5%
Hop overload for this Gal but the Bro enjoyed it. A hoppy red ale true to style with some caramel undertones making its way through the field of hops.

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Nitro

Black Rocks Stout – Boothbay Brewing 6.7%
Yum! Wonderful roasted coffee, bitter chocolate and caramel flavors mixed with just a hint of those West Coast hops. A full pint of this black beauty would be most enjoyable. (Tried a small taste of this on nitro – AMAZING – the nitro helped to mellow out and blend the flavors together even more so.)

Devil’s Thumbprint Black IPA – Boothbay Brewing 6.6%
More and more I find myself enjoying the Black IPAs. I just find them to be a really nice balance of malt and hops and easy to drink. This certainly was the case with the Devil’s Thumbprint. It was so well balance that both myself and my bro enjoyed it!

Townsend – Boothbay Brewing 5.3%
A good medium body English style ale with a pleasant mix of fruitiness, hops and malts.

Fellow tasters shared the…
Flip Flop Kumquat – Boothbay Brewing 4.9%
Very light in body, nice wheat beer with hints of citrus. Good intro beer for someone just starting to get into craft beers.

Vanilla Porter – Boothbay Brewing 3.8%
First tried this after tasting the Black Rocks Stout and felt it was good with just hints of vanilla. I tried it again later on in the tasting and wow the vanilla really punched its way through. Nice porter body but the vanilla was bit overpowering.

092While enjoying the beer we all took notice of how delish the food looked and smelled. A nice touch was the chef retrieving some beer from the taps to cook with. The menu is true tavern fare with both meat and vegetarian offerings. On the way out we spotted fish and chips being served to a patron and none of us could believe the size of the dish. We all agreed we’ll have to pay another visit to Boothbay Brewing so we can try out the food and enjoy some more beer!

Maine Part 1 – Great Lost Bear and Allagash Brewing Company

The Great Lost Bear & Allagash Brewing Company
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This Gal recently had the pleasure of spending some much needed down town in the beautiful state of Maine. Maine also happens to be home of this Gal’s favorite beer bar – The Great Lost Bear! (Please see last year’s post for a full review). Why is The Great Lost Bear my fav? Three simple reasons: 1. Great beer, 2. Great Veggie food (meat friendly too), 3. Great Music – the perfect trifecta. I’m talking kick back and relax bar atmosphere, sipping on the best of Maine beer offerings while listening to the Dead or some other great classic rock band. For this Gal it just doesn’t get any better.

Veggie Burger
Veggie Burger

On this particular visit I opted for the much loved taster round. Five 5 oz pours for $6.25. Wanted to enjoy as many beers as possible but kept in mind still had a good hour and half drive to the final destination. To help balance the intake of alcohol I enjoyed a delish house-made veggie burger that was out of this world in size and goodness!

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Order Right to Left

It perfectly complimented the Taster Round which consisted of:

Summer Weizen – Smuttynose Brewing, NH 5.6%
Well done weizen style, very refreshing with a bit of tang. Good wheat presence with hints of floral and pepper. A beer perfect for kicking back and relaxing with.

Black Fly Stout – Gritty McDuff’s 4.1%
Yes, I repeated a beer from last year’s visit to the Bear. Just goes to show how much I enjoy this particular stout. (last year’s review This stout was ridiculously smooth, light in body but packed with big roasty goodness. It runs in the Irish Stout family but enjoyed it more than the typical Irish Stout because of the full malty flavors.)

Atlantic Bar Harbor Brown 5.2%
I love Brown Ales and will tend to order one whenever I see the style represented on a beer menu which in my opinion is not often enough. This particular brown has a good roasty quality of nuts and malts while maintaining a light body. Not the best brown this Gal has had but enjoyable just the same.

Hampshire Special Ale – Geary’s 7%
Maine in a glass! Wonderfully toasted malts, caramel and toffee balanced perfectly by the hops with hints of ginger and coriander make this ale a real pleasure to sip on. The perfect ambassador for Maine beers.

Confluence – Allagash 7.5%
Wasn’t sure what to expect when I ordered this little delight but I was pleasantly surprised by how incredibly smooth this ale is. All sorts of wonderfulness going on that results in a sweet and spicy harmony. One can detect hints of pepper and apricot along with the hops and malt. However, there’s no mistaking that one is drinking a Belgian style strong ale.

That was the end of my wonderful New England Sampling but I couldn’t leave without a quick taste of a little treasure I spotted on tap for the Goose Island Tap Takeover happening later that night….

Bourbon County Stout – Goose Island 14.2% (ON TAP)
Liquid Gold – Strong Liquid Gold. This style isn’t for everyone but for those of us that like the style Goose Island nailed it. Once you get past the bourbon taste you can pick out hints of vanilla, chocolate and smoke.

011Sadly it was time to wrap up what is happily becoming my yearly pilgrimage to my personal Mecca, The Great Lost Bear.

Now as much as this Gal wanted to linger at the Bear there was another quick stop that just had to be made and was only a mere 8 minutes down the road from The Great Lost Bear.

017016Allagash Brewing Company

One of this Gal’s favorite Brewery’s, so much so I once had an amazing pet I named after the brewery – Allagash.

023I had the pleasure of visiting this brewery many moons ago when Allagash was in its infancy stage. It was just a small brewery with no real tasting area and I don’t think they even offered tours then. They seemed pretty surprised when my companion and I showed up to buy some beer that day.

024 Boy, how things have changed. My jaw hit the floor when I saw the brewery, it’s huge; as is the tasting room. It’s also, very welcoming. There is a lovely outside patio area to hang out and enjoy your beers with a rustic Maine feel to it. Inside has a much more contemporary industrial look and feel with a long tasting bar and several tables for relaxing at. There is Allagash swag for sale all around the tasting room without it having an obnoxious in your face buy me feel to it. It was just there if you wanted to check it out. There was also a cold case with beer for sale. Even the bathrooms are cool! The tasting room is really set up for relaxing and hanging out.

The staff is very friendly and knowledgeable and greeted us upon entering and couldn’t believe I had been there so long ago. The other surprise besides the growth of the brewery was that the tasting round was completely FREE!

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L to R White, Saison, Dubbel, Fluxus

On this particular day the tasting round consisted of the:

White – Allagash 5%
The white has been a go to beer for me for some time. It’s just so refreshing and such a pleasure to drink. It’s a beautiful representation of a Belgian wheat beer with a good unity of wheat, coriander and orange.

Saison – Allagash 6.1%
This Gal loves a Saison! Great balance of rye, pepper and citrus with a lovely yeasty cloudy presence to it. (Four packs of the Saison and Black where purchased for later enjoyment.)

Dubbel – Allagash 7%
A classic – Hints of chocolate and nuts mixed with malty goodness that add up to a slice of Belgian heaven.

Fluxus – Allagash 8.8%
I don’t remember trying the Fluxus before and it continually changes. This year’s Fluxus is an interesting combination of malts with hints of honey and finishes with a slight earthy pine taste without any one flavor being overpowering but rather complimenting each other.

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Now it really was time to continue on thy way – great start to a great vacation. This Gal highly recommends a stop at Allagash Brewing Company next time you find yourself in Portland, Maine followed by some lunch at The Great Lost Bear.