Monthly Archives: June 2015

Saint Benjamin Brewing Company Philly Beer Week Part 3

IMG_2778Saint Benjamin Brewing Company
1710 N 5th Street, Philadelphia, PA

Philly Beer Week 2015 continued with a visit to Saint Benjamin Brewing Company in Kensington, PA. Just a quick jaunt down 95 through the Fishtown neighborhood and I arrived. St. Ben’s is located in an old warehouse with plenty of off street parking with not a whole lost else going on in the neighborhood…yet. This Gal predicts Kensington will be the next up and coming neighborhood in Philly.

The brewery is small but there’s plenty of room for expansion. At the moment their beer is only available in the Philly area but as their reputation grows so will their beer distribution.  One  can also fill up growlers at the brewery on tour days.IMG_2773

You enter St Ben’s through a large loading area and into the back brewery room. To the left is a small make shift table where one can purchase various brewery merchandise, as well as, receive your 6 FREE tickets for the sampling. That’s right folks – it’s FREE and their samples are a healthy size. Free beer = one happy Gal. Tours are available as well and on this particular day there was a good size crowd taking advantage of all the good things St. Ben’s has to offer.

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There were a total of  8 beers on tap during this visit two of which were Saisons. You know how this Gal loves a Saison so naturally I had to try them.

 

 

Saison du Jour 5.7%
Saison du Jour 5.7%

Saison du Jour 5.7%
All the cloudy, yeasty goodness you find with a saison accented by a bit of rye.

Liaison Saison 8%
Liaison Saison 8%

Laison Saison 8%
The scent of herbs and spices hits the nose first thing and the strong taste backs up the scent there were also hints of orange and subtle hops but I had troubles getting past the herbs/spice taste which grows with each sip. Perhaps I would have enjoyed it more paired with the right food but on it’s on didn’t work for me.

Foul Weather Jack
Foul Weather Jack

Foul Weather Jack  English Mild 4.5%
A true English Mild – Yes! Hints of chocolate, roasted malts and dry hops.

Koffee Kolsch 4.8%

Koffee Kolsch
Koffee Kolsch

This Gal’s favorite of the day and I rarely, if ever, pick a Kolsch as a favorite but this one is AMAZING! It’s a cup of morning joe in your glass, looks wise it fools you but the nose gives it away. The bitterness of the full coffee punch is offset by sweetness of the malts. I loved this beer.

Little Peat Stout
Little Peat Stout

Little Peat Stout 4.2%
A lighter body stout – it didn’t have the rich malty chewy feel to it that I love but enjoyable just the same. I recommend this as a intro stout for those who are afraid of the “heavy” beers.

BNC Barleywine 10.5%
Glad to see this a barley wine on the menu and in June no less.  It’s in lighter color and body but packs the power of a barleywine with tinge of citrus. I good barleywine option for the warmer days.

BNC Barley Wine
BNC Barley Wine

I was so excited to see two Saison’s on tap that I didn’t thoroughly plan a beer tasting strategy and since I went for both Saisons I had to pass on trying the Unite Red. Hopefully it’ll be available on my next visit. Oh yes, I plan on visiting again, real soon. If you’re looking to make a day of it Philadelphia Brewing is just 4 or 5 minutes away by car.

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Terrapin/Lagnuitas Tap Takeover – Philly Beer Week Part 2

IMG_2766The burbs rocked it this year for Philly Beer Week! No need to travel more than a few minutes from home if you wanted to participate in Philly Beer Week but not make the the trek into the city. Spoke with several participants who agreed. Heck, even Philly Beer Week sent out a post stating something similar.

So one night after work my brother, nephew and I met up for a Philly Beer Week event at the Uno’s Hamilton featuring a tap takeover by Terrapin Beer Company and Lagunitas Brewing Company. I honestly don’t know how the staff of the various participating venues kept up with the ever changing taps during Philly Beer Week; it had to be overwhelming.

Prior to arrival I took a few minutes to prepare for the evening and study the posted tap list; with my choice flight sample lists in hand I headed over. I arrived before the rest of the gang and took a seat at the bar.  Where I had the distinct pleasure of meeting a fellow beer enthusiast, Jimmy and a wonderful beer conversation ensued. Thanks Jimmy!

Terrapin Taster L to R: Liquid Bliss, Maggies, Wake n Bake, Naked Bliss
Terrapin Taster L to R: Liquid Bliss, Maggies, Wake n Bake, Naked Bliss

I chose to start with a Terrapin Taster Round:

Liquid Bliss Peanut Butter Porter – Terrapin 6.10%
So good, a true favorite of this Gal’s. This is one of those beers that should not be served cold and improves as it warms up. As much as I love Sweet Baby Jesus this tops it with the perfect balance of chocolate to peanut butter.

Maggies Farmhouse Ale – Terrapin 6% I need to come clean and state I do NOT like any thing flavored with peach except a peach itself. It’s truly one of things I loath but I do love Farmhouse Ales so went for it.  Well, it was just a little to peachy for me. However, it did have a true Belgium quality to it.

Wake N Bake Imperial Stout – Terrapin 9.4%
Holy breakfast stout! Right away you can taste the chicory and oats with hint of dark fruits. I also noted a underlying smokiness to it.

Naked Bliss Porter -Terrapin 6.10%
This is the Liquid Bliss minus the peanut butter but with the bonus of raspberries. Yum!

Lagunitas Taster L to R: Sucks, Scary City #2, Hairy Eyeball, Scary City #3
Lagunitas Taster L to R: Sucks, Scary City #2, Hairy Eyeball, Scary City #3

Lagunitas Taster Rounder:

Sucks  Imperial IPA – Lagunitas 7.85%
That’s right folks this Gal chose an Imperial IPA and indeed it was real hoppy. Not a favorite of this Gal’s but enjoyed it just the same. Then again I’m really starting to enjoy the refreshing citrus IPAs offer.

Scare City #2 Rye Cocoa Porter – Lagunitas 10.19%
Lately this Gal has been enjoying the rye beers. Well, black ryes that is. They just have the perfect combination of hops to malts and this was no exception. The color was a gorgeous black silk and a medium body that combined cocoa, roasted chicory & malts, dark fruits  all rounded out by the rye. Very enjoyable.

Hairy Eyeball American Strong Ale – Lagunitas 9.4%
Loved the copper color of this ale and it’s low carbonation smoothness. There’s  subtle hop notes in the background with roasted malts, raisins and brown sugar in the forefront.

Scare City #3 Imperial Stout – Lagunitas 12.1%
Oozy woozy bourbon beer. This beer is to be sipped, savored and enjoyed at room temperature from a snifter style glass. I was pretty floored when I saw it being poured as a full pint! Alrighty then. Bourbon, toffee, malts, chicory and vanilla combine to make a delightful boozy sipper.

Not only was the beer selection amazing but the free swag was a plenty. A very successful Philly Beer Week event in the Burbs.

Swag
Swag
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More Swag

Bru & U-Bahn – Philly Beer Week Part 1

BruPhilly Beer Week has grown into such a massive action packed week of beer events one must choose wisely from the extensive list of events taking place. I was carefully studying the list when I saw a Meet the Brewer Night with Oxbow Brewery at U-Bahn. YES PLEASE! I knew right away this was to be my first event of the week. First off Oxbow holds a special place in this Gal’s heart. I first discovered this fabulous little brewery last year while vacationing in Maine (See Oxbow review) and to finally have the opportunity to once again enjoy their wonderful selection of craft beers was an opportunity not to be missed.  Second, U-Bahn was high on my list of places to try so this was a win, win situation. Or so I thought.

UBahnWith a bit more research I decided to visit U-Bahn first and then wonder upstairs to Bru, also on my places to visit list and they were hosting a Half Acre tap taker over.

By now if you read any of my past blog posts you know I love the city of Brotherly Beer, aka Philadelphia. However, I do tend to visit establishments in the outer lying neighborhoods of Fishtown, Art Museum Area, Northern Liberties, etc. I really don’t wonder into downtown Center City too often. Just too many humans, traffic and overpriced parking but I was willing to make the exception for Oxbow. Plus, it was a Sunday night so just how bad could it be? Well…It took almost 2 hours to drive/park (normally a 45 minute task). By the time this Gal’s companion got the car parked I was in dire need of a beer.

We walked the few blocks from the reasonably priced $8 lot to U-Bahn and wondered downstairs. U-Bahn is small and even though the interior is stone, and wood/pallets it had a cold industrial feel to me. Oxbow Brewery has a hippie vibe to it that I love but didn’t really didn’t fit with U-Bahn and the trendy Euro feel it has, then again this Gal didn’t really fit in either.

There’s two bars one large and one tiny, several high top tables and a few nooks to hang out in. There is also a band stage but on this night there was a DJ later on. Just don’t see a need for a DJ for a meet the brewer night but more on that in a bit. First the beer…or so I thought.

I wondered up to the bar and checked out the tap list of Oxbow beers – it was beautiful. Decided to start with the Oxbow Bandolier 5.5%. I requested my selection from the bartender only to be told they weren’t serving beer – yet. Ummm, I turned and looked around to see if there was a hidden camera or something because this made no sense to me. It’s Philly Beer Week, I’m in a beer bar for a beer event and yet No Beer – really? Yes, really. The brewer hadn’t arrived and they wouldn’t serve the beer until he did. OK, I get it’s a Meet the Brewer event and the beer folks are running around like crazy during Philly Beer Week and there’s a good probability that they will run late but if the brewer is almost 1.5 hours late SERVE THE BEER! I kindly explained to the bartender that it took me close to 2 hours to get there and that this news wanted to make me cry but I stayed strong turned to my companion and informed him we’d be eating first.  So up the stairs to Bru we went.

Bru and U-Bahn are related establishments with individual entrances from the street with a stairway connecting them inside. As we made our way upstairs we could hear the music from Bru. It was loud, way loud, obnoxiously loud.

Upon entering Bru we were greeted and directed to a high top table.  Our server was very pleasant  and quickly arrived to take our drink order. Now you know the music is too loud when the server has to start off with “it’s hard to take orders because of the music but I’ll do my best”. Yup that’s how loud it was. Thought – if the servers are having trouble hearing patrons maybe turn it down a tad.

Bru Tap List
Bru Tap List
Veggie Kabob
Veggie Kabob

The first beer I ordered had just kicked so I went with the Half Acre Daisy Cutter which complemented my veggie kabob nicely. My companion had the Schnitzel which was large and very good. The food menu showcases the German heritage and offers something for everyone. Considering it’s Center City Philly the prices were reasonable as well. Not only is the food menu good but the tap list is extensive and they offer a very impressive bottle list as well.

Daisy Cutter
Daisy Cutter

Daisy Cutter – Half Acre Beer Company, IL 5.3% – This is a kick butt pale ale, very nicely done with citrus, earthy grass, hops and floral essences all working together to create a fresh thirst quenching beer.

I liked the decor of Bru, in fact, loved the wood and rustic feel but the obnoxiously loud music killed the atmosphere.  Overall it just had a trendy hipster vibe to it. Not saying anything’s wrong with hipster just not this Gal’s thing. I’m more hippie than hipster.

I was going to order a second selection from the Half Acre list but decided to forgo it. It really wasn’t fun having to sit/eat in silence because conversing was out of the question. So we paid up and headed back downstairs to U-Bahn. By now the Oxbow brewer had arrived, the place was jumping and the DJ was spinning. You guess it…spinning loudly. For the love of beer don’t others like to be able to hang and talk with their friends while enjoying a beer?

I made my way through the crowd up to the bar and ordered my Bandolier. Guess what? They were having troubles with the keg of Bandolier. I know, I couldn’t believe it either but I was determined to try this beer so I patiently waited and waited and waited. I left my chateau at 5:30pm it was now 8:15pm but finally there if front of me was my pint of Oxbow Bandolier. Yes, it was worth the wait.

Bandolier
Bandolier

Bandolier Oxbow Brewing Company, ME 5.5% This is a springtime farmhouse ale with a rustic earthiness to it that’s complimented by floral hops and bakery fresh bread followed up by hints of citrus. A light, refreshing, full flavor Summer Ale.

By the time I finished my Bandolier it was time for my companion and I to head home. I would have loved to enjoy more Oxbow but at this point it just wasn’t meant to be. The Bandolier would have to hold me over until I visit the brewery in person in just a few short weeks. But wait, guess who stopped me on the way out? Mike, the brewer, from Oxbow. We had pleasant chat and it was nice to meet him in person. I look forward to chatting with him again soon.

If you find your self in center city both Bru and U-Bahn are worth stopping in for their great tap lists just have patience with the parking situation or be willing to pay mightily for a garage.

 

 

 

Sly Fox Brewing

IMG_2740Sly Fox Brewing Fox Trot – May 30, 2015
331 Circle of Progress Drive, Pottstown, PA 19464

One of this Gal’s goals for 2015 is to run all 3 Great American Brewery Runs Races or at least walk all three. Last year a couple of my gal pals and I participated in the Flying Fish 5k which happened to take place on one of the HOTTEST days of the year yet, we still had such a good time we decided try for the trilogy this year.

Now allow me to clear up any misconceptions you may have that I’m a runner. I am not…at all! Ok, I have run a couple of 5K’s and mud runs in the past but it’s been a while since I ran so from the time I registered for this race I had plans to walk it. I enjoy challenging myself but I also want to have fun and I was in this for the fun and the beer. That’s right each racer gets a special race glass filled with beer at the end of the race! Oh and the races raise money for charity –  a win for all!IMG_2738

First up on the Great American Brewery Runs schedule for 2015 the Sly Fox Brewing Fox Trot at the Sly Fox Brewery.  I had only ever been to the Sly Fox Brewhouse in Phoenixville, PA and not to the Brewery itself so I was excited to finally  be able to check it out. After being to both I prefer the atmosphere and character of the brewery.

Race Day! Believe me when I say after last year’s ungodly heat at the Flying Fish race I was watching the weather closely. It was scheduled to be hot but thank goodness cloudy. At least the sun wouldn’t be blaring down on us. The brewery was a solid hour and fifteen minutes away so an early morning start was required. We arrived at the brewery on schedule, 8:30am, to pick up our race packets and to get a feel for the lay of the land.

IMG_2739The brewery is located in an industrial park not far from houses and surprisingly a fair amount trees and grassy areas. Right next to the brewery parking lot was a large grass field where the band and food trucks for the event set up. It made for a great place for people to kick back and relax after the race.  That’s right this is a relaxed party atmospher – you just have the pesky race to run first.

After picking up our packets and pinning on our bibs it was time to check out the brewery. Outside there are several picnic tables with umbrellas to sit and inside there are also a few picnic tables plus a long bar. On this day there were no bar stools but I’m not sure if that’s the norm or because of the large event. Besides their beer they also offer a small food menu with flatbreads, salads and nachos. I didn’t try any of their food but it looked tasty.

After checking things out we choose a picnic table outside to sit and relax at until race time. Folks came around prior to the start of the race to place our 21+ wrist bands on so we wouldn’t have to wait after the race for an id check to get our beer. As we sat waiting for race time the food trucks started arriving and setting up. The three of us were hungry so with each food truck arrival we got excited and couldn’t wait to get something to eat after the race.

Race Time! Finally it was time to make our was to the start line. It was hot but fortunately still cloudy out. Until just a couple of minutes before the race started then the clouds parted and the BLARING sun shown in all it’s blazing glory. NOOOOO! Immediately the temperature rose and every one started sweating just standing there. Oh this race just became so much longer. Suddenly we were off!

The Course – now if you’re thinking because it’s a brewery run the event planners choose a flat easy course you are wrong. This course was full of hills, lots of hills and road kill. Seriously folks clean up the road kill prior to the race. It’s not like these poor critters had just passed it was obvious they had been there a long while – eww.

Slowly I made my way up every hill and was ecsatic when I reached the water station which meant I was have way through the race and closer to beer! Whoo hoo cause by this point it was stinking hot.

Finish Line! There it was the finish line and water.  I crossed the line and asked for two bottles please. Hey, I was toward the back so must folks already received their water and they had plenty left for those behind me and well, I needed two. The guy informed me I could always refill my bottle at the water refilling station.  Yup, I was aware of the filling station prior to the start of the race but I was also aware this station was set up right next to the port a potties and the location was gross and the set up not really sanitary.  So I wanted two bottles and enjoyed them both immensely.

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Special glass each runner receives

The Party – I met up with my friends, they’re runners so they finished way before me, enjoyed my first bottle of water and headed over to the beer line. The line was long but moved supper quick. Not only did each racer get a beer but we also received a cool koozie. If you registered as a team of 10 or me you also received a growler.

Each racer received a glass of Grisette Working Class Ale 5.6% (2014 GABF Gold Medal Winner). Super psyched that it was a farmhouse ale they were serving. Perfect style for an end of race beer. This one had the farmhouse standards that I love, earthy bread, coriander and citrus.

Koozie
Koozie

Next we needed food, only we no longer found the different food truck options as appealing as we did prior to the race. We were hot now and heavy, rich food just wasn’t going to cut it. Plenty of folks enjoyed the pork parfait,  fried cheese curds and such but the three of us opted for a quinoa chickpea patty. It was good, not heavy and filled us. Luckily there were plenty of spots in the shaded picnic table area for us to relax at and enjoy our sandwich.

It was also time for another beer. I chose the  Abbey Extra Belgian Pale Ale 5.7% – clean, crisp malty beer with hints of spice and fruit. Normally I would prefer a little more body to an Abbey but this was perfect for the hot day.

After finishing up our beers it was time to head back home. Unfortunately, the brewery wasn’t allowing any take out purchases on this day understandable but disappointing. However, overall a fun day!

Next up the 2015 Flying Fish 5K and I hope they announce a date soon for the Yard’s Dash!
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Side note: So far I’ve found these Great American Brewery Runs to be well organized with plenty of water, bananas and pretzels at the end of the race course and a sufficient amount of port of potties for the racers to use.

NYC Village Pub Crawl

UnknownThis Gal decided to take a Sunday inSpring  and enjoy a NYC Village Pub Crawl. With list in hand  my companion and I made our way via bus and subway to the Village. First stop was to be Jimmy’s No.43 but just a couple of doors prior we came to McSorley’s Old Ale House. This wasn’t on the list since my goal was to hit places I’ve never been to but then again it’s McSorley’s so a stop was required. It’s been years since I last visited and nothing has changed, same saw dust on the floors, same cobwebs and dust hanging from the lamps. The only change seemed to be my furry four legged cat friend was no longer around.

McSorley's DarkSame beer is available as well. McSorley’s serves two types of beer light and dark. Yup, it’s that simple so, of course, I ordered a round of dark. A round still consist of 2 small mugs of beer for only $5.50.  The dark is a smooth tasty dark lager and makes for easy drinking. McSorley’s is an institution with a great atmosphere which is why one visits this historic place.

 

After my round of dark it was time to visit the first stop on my list Jimmy’s No. 43. However, a bit more planning should have been involved since Jimmy’s didn’t open until 4:30pm and it was only 1:30pm. Strike #1 Sigh…so next up was Good Beer.

Good Beer is really a beer package store with a few taps for enjoying a beer on the spot. However, there is only 1 small table in the corner and it was occupied. This particular Sunday was unseasonable warm for Spring and my companion and I wanted to sit and enjoy our beverages. Since there was no place to sit and apparently no air conditioning we moved on. Strike #2

IMG_2720We had hope things would improve and they did. Several more blocks and we arrived at the  #1 spot on my list to try.  Alphabet City Beer Co. (ABC Beer Co.)  I’ve heard a lot good things about this place and I was hoping it would live up to it’s reputation. ABC is a craft beer store and bar with a cool laid back atmosphere. The bar itself is small and only sits a handful of folks but there’s a large communal table in the back for hanging with friends plus a few comfy high back chairs that just beg for someone kick back with a book and beer. A limited food menu is offered and it IMG_2718appears all the food is made behind the bar. My friend and I decided to grab two seats at the bar and I went to work studying the tap list. There are 12 taps that rotate often so you never know what you may find. The one draw back about the tap list, well, I found it hard to read. At first glance you might thing there were only 6 beers on tap but look closely and you’ll see all 12.

ABC Tap List
ABC Tap List

Taster rounds aren’t available but the bar tenders are fine with pouring small sample tastes.  I found it helpful that the tap list shows the pricing for half pours, pints and growler fills.

First up:
Barrier Beech Street Wit 5.1% – I was so happy to have this beer placed in front me. I was hot and this beer was crisp and refreshing with wonderful wit hints of orange and coriander and just slight undertones of banana.

Barrier Beech Street Wit
Barrier Beech Street Wit

AleSmith Nut Brown English Brown Ale – 5%
This Gal always gets excited to see a brown ale on tap and wished I would see them more often.  This is a well done medium body English brown that’s creamy and offers  just the right balance of nuts, malts and whole bread goodness.

 Stillwater L’anjub Aloja Farmhouse  – Stillwater Artisanal Ales, MD 6.9%
I love Farmhouse ales! Love, love, love! This has the classic cloudy yeasty body associated with this style. Crisp, sour, yeast, fruit, pepper and a hint of saison funk all add up make this an enjoyable Farmhouse ale.

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Stillwater L’anjub Aloja Farmhouse

After Farmhouse our stomachs informed us it was time to eat so off to our next and final beer stop for a late lunch and another tasty beer or so we thought. We headed caddy corner across the street from ABC Beer Co. to Zum Schneider. A German beer hall in Alphabet City. We were excited to try this place and extremely disappointed to find out that they were closed for some reason. Normally they open at 1pm on Sunday and here it was 3:30pm but they were closed. Strike #3 IMG_2721

We decided to just walk around and see what restaurant caught our eye on the way back to the subway when I spotted a little gem called the Drop Off Service. This looked like my kind of bar! The Drop Off Service is an bar located in an old laundromat building. Now this was EXACTLY what this Gal was looking for – a cool off the grid beer bar with a grungy, laid back, old work feel to the place with lots of bring, wood and iron.

IMG_2727Besides a killer tap list they  also offer wine and cocktails but no food. However, one can bring in food from the outside. Now that I had time to relax, cool off and enjoy some beer at ABC Beer Co. it was now time for a stout.

Peg Leg Imperial Stout
Peg Leg Imperial Stout

Peg Leg Imperial Stout, Heavy Seas MD – 8%
YES! I don’t care that is was freaking hot out I still love me a stout and this stout had everything I was looking for. Roasted malts, chicory, chocolate and bourbon undertones.

Steeped Emperor’s Lemon Saison, Moody Tongue Brewing, IL – 6.3%
I wasn’t sure just how strong the lemon would be and hoped it wouldn’t overpower the other flavors. The lemon was pretty strong but the coriander was still there. Still it was a bit too lemony for this Gal.

Hemboldt Brown Hemp Ale
Hemboldt Brown Hemp Ale

Humboldt Brown Hemp Ale, Humboldt Brewing, CA 5.7% – Two brown ales in one day? I must be in OZ. This is a very mild creamy brown with earthy flavor accented by roasted nuts and malt. Good but not great still worth trying.

The Drop Off Service offers Happy Hour everyday with $5 craft beers until 8pm. Why is craft beer cheaper in NYC than Central NJ?! The Drop Off Service was the favorite stop of the day! Now it really was time for us to move on in search of some food…until next time NYC.

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Drop Off Service