Category Archives: Beer Tastings

Bissell Brothers Brewing

To say Bissell Brothers Brewing has been on my Breweries to Visit list for some time would be an understatement. As the saying goes…All in good time and that time finally arrived. I decided I’d be making two stops this year on my beloved trek north to Maine – Bissell Brothers Brewing (Portland Location) and Maine Beer Co.

I had no preconceived thoughts as to what BBB would be like but they didn’t disappoint. They are located a bit off the beaten path, aren’t most breweries, in an old railway building. So yea, the building is pretty cool with its rustic charm and the vibe is bright, energetic and fun! There’s a very nice patio area for outdoor enjoyment and inside the main floor is large with plenty of seating and there’s also a small upper level as well. You order at the bar, the line moves quickly and the staff is very friendly and helpful. There were 14 beers on tap and the list was broken up by IPA & Hop-Forward, Dark & Malty, Lager & Traditional and Funky & Wild. I think the way they had the tap list is very helpful and cuts down on a lot of questions from folks.

Pilsner

Beings there was a Pilsner on tap and that’s my fav style right now, yea I said it, I went with that first. Precept Pilsner 5.6% – Oh yum! This pilsner was so crisp and clean. This particular pilsner uses Mittelfruh & Saaz hops along with Maine Pilsner malts. The malt to hops ratio was spot on and it was the perfect refresher after sitting in the car for 6 hours.

Next up I enjoyed the Zoo Hypothesis Double IPA 7.7% – What a treat this DIPA was. It’s made with Lotus, Citrus and Mosaic hops along with 2-row, Maine Oats & Maine Wheat malts. The nose consists of a variety of fruits including tropical along with orange and grapefruit. The orange and grapefruit are the forward tastes balanced by earthy herbs and spices.

DIPA

I was surprised they offered a selection of food from tacos, sandwiches and burgers along with a kid’s menu as well. They also offer wine, craft cider and soda

Because we still had a stop at Maine Beer Company and the rest of the drive to our final desertion I had to make do with just enjoying the two beers this visit but I look forward to a return trip.

Bissell Brothers Brewing ~ Fb ~ IG

2021 Breweries to Visit – Odd Bird Brewing

Next on my list of 2021 Breweries to Visit was Odd Bird Brewing in Stockton, NJ. When I found out a brewery had opened in the quaint town of Stockton not only was I excited that there was new beer to try, just a scenic drive away, but felt this would be a perfect addition to the town.

One of the first things to catch my eye about Odd Bird is the logo…it’s gorgeous. This Gal’s background is marketing and graphic design so things like logos and branding, always stick out to me and tell me a bit about the business, whether it be a brewery or something else. If a place realizes the importance of professional design and branding they realize the importance of small but mighty details. Odd Bird does just that…recognizes the importance of even the smallest details and the bigger ones too. It’s an aesthetically pleasing and inviting space and the owners make you feel very welcomed. The tap handles are gorgeous hand blow glass and the wood tables add a nice rustic feel. I look forward to the day the inside is open to the patrons. The husband-and-wife team run the place by themselves so for now only the outside tent patio is open for seating. They are looking to welcome the public inside in the fall.

Odd Bird is small but laid out in the way to make the most of the space inside and out. The tent backs up to a hill and has several low and high-top tables plus a “bar” at the front you can sit at. Parking is tough and my guess is will be better in the colder weather once the tent is gone. The Saturday night I was there I was able to snag a spot right out front otherwise you can park down the street at the Prallsville Mill. Because the brewery is located in a food manufacturing facility no dogs allowed. You are welcomed to bring food in and there is a plethora of places in Stockton to get take out from or take your beer to go to one of the BYOB restaurants. Stockton is really a cute town and worth taking a few movements to walk around and enjoy. There’s also a tow path you can walk or ride your bike on and then stop at the brewery for a beer reward after.

Now onto the beer! Right now, no flights but they are very generous with tasters. There were 9 beers on tap and 1 on cask the night I was there and the list was pretty diverse. As soon as I saw they offered a ESB I knew that’s what this Gal was getting. I’ll say it again – I’m so freaking happy to see this style popping up more and more on tap list! It’s been overlooked for far too long.

Extra Stockton Bitter ESB 4.5% – It did not disappoint. I always appreciate a good malt forward beer balanced by the bitterness of hops.

I was happy that both the IPA offerings were not hazy. Did a taster of each Extraordinary Machine IPA 6.4% and the Catbird IPA 6.9%. Decided on the Extraordinary for the pour. It’s nice crisp and clean IPA that goes down easily with a soft note of hops.

The final taste of the evening for this Gal was the Joe’s Garage Kölsch 5.2%. Another style I’m happy to be seeing on tap list again. A Kölsch is always a good kick back summer refresher. Joe’s Garage is well done. A breath of freshness with hits of floral hops and malt aromas.

The brewery is just a hop, skip and jump away from Lambertville, NJ and New Hope, PA so incorporating a stop into your day of sighting seeing would be an added bonus! I look forward to watching the Odd Bird grow and become an anchor to the Stockton community.

Odd Bird Brewing ~ FB ~ IG

2021 Breweries to Visit – Tonewood

Next up on my list of breweries to visit in 2021 – Tonewood Brewery. My friend and I picked a gorgeous May weekday afternoon to meet up and see what’s what at the brewery. I love they are open Tuesday thru Sunday. Some of us like visiting breweries during the week rather than wait for the weekend. For whatever reason the location through me off a bit. The location is part industrial and, yet, part residential. I’m not sure what the building used to house and the person from Tonewood I spoke to didn’t know either. Reminded me of an old firehouse but don’t think it was. It butts right up to a residential property and neighborhood. I bet the zoning meetings for the approval had to be interesting. Also, there is a free parking lot across from the side of the building.

My friend and I chose to sit outside at the picnic tables that run along the side of the brewery. Beware you are sitting at a slant and might occasionally have to keep your beer from sliding down he table. The brewery itself is small but there are several tables inside, as well as, a bar. The wood table tops are are beautiful and I love the use of wood showcased in it’s natural glory. Pretty much the entire time I was there they played the Grateful Dead so you know this Gal was happy and it earned them huge bonus points!

Tonewood does not offer beer flights but once I saw they had a Schwarzbier on tap I new exactly what this Gal would be drinking. Black Bird Schwarzbier 4% Dark German Lager and oh so delish! Smooth, crisp and clean with hints of chocolate and pumpernickel. It was the perfect Spring beer for the early May afternoon. The day I was there the IPA’s were all hazy, just not my thing right now, so after the Schwarzbier I enjoyed the Two Versions of Me Dry Hopped Pilsner 5% and a collab beer from Tonewood and Cape May Brewing. It was a respectful Pilsner with tones of melon, white grape and a hint of oak.

Tonewood is a 10 minute drive from Kings Road Brewery so brewery crawl! Truth be told I stopped at Kings Road Brewery first…see previous blog.

Tonewood Brewery ~ FB ~ IG

Kings Road Brewery

Back in early May I had plans to meet a friend at Tonewood Brewing but realized Kings Road Brewery was just 10 minutes from Tonewood so felt it necessary to stop and check out Kings Road first. So glad I did.

Kings Road Brewery is located in the heart of downtown Haddonefield, NJ and what a cute town! A gorgeous downtown that just calls out for one to spend an afternoon strolling the streets, popping into the various mom and pops shops, restaurants, bakeries, and brewery. To say Haddonfield is cute is an understatement and I plan on going back to enjoy an afternoon of #smallbusiness. However, I did stop into a fun little spice and tea shop before heading to the brewery. The brewery is close to the Heritage Winery Tasting Room and across the street from The British Chop Shop which happens to be byob.

There is street meter parking out front and a rather large lot near the rear of the brewery across the street. Beings I was there on a weekday afternoon I had no problem finding parking out front. I opted to enjoy my beer outside in the back of the brewery where they had several picnic tables set up with a tent overhead for some shade. Besides the picnic table area they also had a few barrel tables outside in the front of the building and another outside area in the back with a few hightop tables and lots of sun. Inside the space is generous with lots of warm tones, wood and plenty of seating. You are allowed to bring food in and dogs are welcomed outside. The interior is a nice size and felt warm and inviting. The staff was very attentive and welcoming.

This Gal absolutely adored the tap list. It was really one of the most diverse brewery lists I’ve seen in a while and spot on for Spring. There were so many I wanted to try so opted for a taster flight:

Empire Strikes Back – English Bitter 5.1% ( you know I had to order it with a name like that)
Very happy to see an English Bitter and even happier drinking it. This ESB had the perfect combination of malts and hops.

1944 Pilsner – 4.4% My go to style now a days.
This was a true classic German style Pilsner. Starts with a bit of doughiness and follows up clean and crisp.

Hell n’ Bock – 6.7%
A bock! Love a bock and so happy to see one on their menu. I cannot stress enough how much I loved their selection. This bock wasn’t as malty as some I’ve had but that’s ok there was still plenty of malt and had a slight taste of peppers.

Since the lager had kicked and the IPAs were NE stye, which just wasn’t in the mood for, I opted for the Black Musket Stout to round out the flight.

Black Musket Stout – 6.2%
It’s been a while since I ordered a stout. I used to love the roasted coffee flavor to stouts but my taste have changed and since most stouts seem to have the coffee thing going on I tend to pass. This black beauty passed on the coffee and offered up an abundance of dark malts countered by hops and a hint of nuttiness. Rich, Smooth & Creamy.

I wish I had more time to spend at Kings Road Brewery but I had to move onto my next stop but I’ll definitely be back.

Kings Road Brewery ~ FB ~ IG

2021 Breweries to Visit – Icarus

Even though my 2020 Breweries to Visit list…oh heck we all know what happened to any plans made in 2020. The fact that 2020 was a wash didn’t stop me from making my 2021 Breweries to Visit list. This year’s list focuses heavily only #NJCraftBeer with a few PA breweries in the mix and so far I’m on track with visits. My latest stop was to Icarus Brewing in Lakewood, NJ. I’ve been hearing so many good things about their beer and had to check it out for myself.

I recently met a friend there on a rainy afternoon so outside sitting wasn’t going to work. However, on nice days there is a small makeshift seating area in the parking lot in front of the brewery. Parking appears to be limited unless I missed a second lot. We chose to go early on a Friday in hopes it wouldn’t be crowded at 1:30pm and our plan worked.

The brewery is much smaller than I imagined but the layout doesn’t make you feel cramped and even though it’s in a warehouse they have it set up to be warm and inviting. There are only a handful of tables with the tables along the wall having hanging dividers between them. There are also hooks along the wall and under the bar to hang purses and coats or whatever, as well as, charging outlets. Very nice touch! (no bar seating right now) Since I had my pups with me I chose the corner table next to the bar which was really out of the way from others.

The tap list is diverse from Pilsner, IPA, Pale Ale, Fruit, Stouts and Quads on tap. I was excited to see two Pilsners on the list, my go to style right now and stuck to them and IPA’s for this trip. I was happy with all my choices. The Three B’s Pilsner 6.9% and Pound of Feathers Imperial Pilsner 7.1% both were well done, clean and crisp and my favs of the day. I enjoyed the Pound of Feathers so much I bought 4 pack for my brother. I also really enjoyed the Piner West Coast IPA 7.4%. I love a good old school W.C. IPA and the Piner was exactly what I was in the mood for with hints of pine and citrus.

The artwork on the walls is fun and I even spotted a Grateful Dead painting so you know that made this Gal happy. The have a large collection of vinyl that they play and I love that they display the album sleeve of what is currently playing. Another nice touch!

We brought our own food to enjoy. I stopped on the way to Icarus at Mama Dude’s a fantastic little mom & pop farm to table take out joint…highly recommend them. We enjoyed lunch, beers and catching up which really made for such a relaxing afternoon.

Right now seating is limited to 90 minutes if crowded, no flights and there’s a take out window up front for purchases. The staff is friendly and happy to answer any questions and the brewery is dog friendly. Mama T. and Sullivan felt very welcomed.

Icarus Brewing ~ Facebook ~ Web ~ IG


Yes please and thank you.

IMG_0606Recently my brother, often referred to as the world’s greatest brother, was at Trillium Brewing and texted me few cool pics of the place and in return I every so sweetly reminded him that I love suveniors. He asked if I would like to pick a few beers from their can list to bring back for me? Yes please and thank you! I’ve been on a kick of going out side my norm and trying beers that might not normally appeal to me. So I picked my 4 out of the box beers and 2 styles I normally enjoy. I enjoyed all the beers but the one that shocked me and I just loved was the one I saved for last because I thought, “why did I pick this one?” Double Seesaw American Gose Ale Brewed with Plum. Don’t get me wrong I enjoy a Gose every now and then but I’m not big into the fruit beers and am not a fan of plum in general. That has now changes. This beer is so delightful and fun! It comes in at only 5.3%. During the pour the sent of citrus, berries and, of course, plum are very noticeable. The color is striking and the taste simply incredible. It’s a medium body plum lemonade! There’s a tartness from the plum but that is counter balanced by the sweetness of the berries and the saltiness found with this style. It is one of the most perfectly balanced beers I have in a very long time. What a genuinely pleasant surprise and so happy I chose to go outside the norm on my selection.

Edgy & Veggie: A Vegan Beer Dinner

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Chef Scot Seher & Head Brewer Josh Ervine

I recently had the pleasure of the attending the Iron Hill Brewery (Mapleshade) Edgy & Veggie: A Vegan Beer Dinner and it was out of this world delish from start to finish. Since I usually can’t eat most food offerings at beer dinners I tend to skip them. So it’s been many years since this Gal had the pleasure of enjoying a beer dinner. The dinner sold out quickly and many of those in attendance weren’t vegan or vegetarian but enjoyed themselves immensely. Each course was expertly paired by Head Chef  Scot Seher & Head Brewer Josh Ervine. Following is the menu. My personal favs the 3rd Course Artichoke “Crab”Cake paired with the Galaxy Quest IPA. The citrus of the beer with the artichoke and spices of the “Crab” Cake was perfect together. Fortunately I had some of the Galaxy Quest left and tried it with the Intermezzo Blood Orange-Parsnip Sorbet which were incredible together and I was told a happy coincidence.
My other fav was the 4th Course Southern Fried Tofu paired with Out of the Gate IPA.  The course was solid yummy comfort food at it’s best and the caramel malts from the beer brought out the herbaliciousness of the seitan gravy.

 

 

FIRST COURSE
Zucchini Carpaccio
candied meyer lemon, pickled lavender buds,
pistachio paste and cashew milk ricotta
Paired with Phightin’ Phils Pils

SECOND COURSE
Yucca Tostones
shaved vegetable slaw and charred tomato coulis
Paired with Ziggy Star-Bock

 

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Artichoke “Crab” Cake

THIRD COURSE
Artichoke “Crab” Cake
micro watercress, pesto and white balsamic drizzle
Paired with Galaxy Quest

INTERMEZZO
Blood Orange-Parsnip Sorbet

FOURTH COURSE
Southern Fried Tofu
green tomato, black bean puree,
grilled corn-potato puree and sawmill style seitan gravy
Paired with Out the Gate IPA

 

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Southern Fried Tofu

FIFTH COURSE

Harissa Marinated Cauliflower Steak
chickpea couscous, roasted tomato and grilled spring onion chimichurri
Paired with Trubbel with Monks

SIXTH COURSE
Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
banana chips and macadamia-almond ice cream
Paired with Vanilla Coffee Porter

 

They also offered a Non-alcoholic dinner option as well which I think is great and I saw several folks who went for this option.

Great beer, fabulous food, wonderful company – overall a fun night out.


Beer of the Week

Beer of the Week for 1/9-1/15.
ee32a0579e22b18d7f3ecbbad2c328bc_640x640This week’s Beer of the Week goes to Avery Brewing Company Salvation. Belgian Strong Pale Ale 9%This gem has been hanging out in my aging cellar but I felt it was time to enjoy it instead of just looking at it.Salvation is truly divine. It’s one of those special beers that’s wonderful on it’s own but can also be paired with an array of foods. Hints of pitted fruits with accents of nutmeg make for a delightful sipping beer.

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Runner Up – @AveryBrewingCo Out of Bounds Stout 6.3%. This beer is quickly becoming one of my favorite stouts. I love vanilla, chocolate and coffee stouts but I greatly appreciate that this is purely a stout. Standing on it’s own in rich roasted barely and malty goodness balanced out by hoppy goodness.

There’s quite a few Avery’s in my beer cellar patiently waiting their turn to be enjoyed.

Thank you The Grey Lodge Pub for the fine looking Avery glass. One that beauty during Philly Loves Beer (Philly Beer Week) Let’s Make a Deal event.

@AveryBrewingCo #beeroftheweek @GreyLodge @phillylovesbeer

“My Other Place”

61550_199932580205704_2079334166_nLast I posted was about “My Place” UNO’s Hamilton but this time around I want to talk about “My Other Place” Trenton Road Take Out also known as my go to beer store. For the most part I prefer shopping at Mom & Pop stores as I find the experience to be more pleasant and personable. Mega stores and their mega parking lots can leave this Gal feeling frazzled. One time I decided to do my grocery shopping at a mega grocery store and was handed a map upon entering the store. A MAP! When a map is required to navigate a store I know the place is not for me.

No map is required at Trenton Road Take Out but do allow yourself plenty of time to shop. For a small store they are fully stocked with great beer and you want to make sure to explore each and every shelf. BTW, TRT is the only store this Gal shops at on Black Friday. Yes, they have Black Friday specials and folks line up early for them. They also offer gift certificates which were a big hit with this Gal’s family last Christmas.

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Some of my purchases

The beer selection at TRT is outstanding and it would be very wise to follow them on Facebook since SMAS updates it regularly with new items, arrival days and where to find them in the store. There’s even a Facebook Rack which is where I usually head to first. That is after I get my beer to drink. Yup, they have 6 beers on tap for filling growlers and are also available to enjoy at the store. I love sipping on a great beer while beer shopping it’s so relaxing and enjoyable. The tap list changes frequently, again it’s updated regularly on Facebook and offers a nice variety of styles to choose from. The staff is great about offering sample tastes and they have printout sheets for each beer with ratings and descriptions.

 

14053892_10154059613483124_4313425747331550357_oJust because they are small don’t think they don’t get the limited releases. However, unlike some other establishments TRT keeps is very fair and doesn’t price gauge. This is a big deal to this Gal. Once I missed out on making the List, more about the List in a moment, and had to go to a big box store for KBS. I was blown away with how much they jacked up the price per bottle. I get they’re in business to make money but ripping off the customer – well – that just isn’t cool. TRT keeps the prices real and the List policy fair. List Policy per TRT  – “List are started on FaceBook for beers that are allocated by my distributors and there is a very limited amount to be had. When I start a list on Facebook for a certain brew, you just have to say in any way you want, that you want to be on the list, I will then like your post to show that I saw it and you are now on the list.  Lets say if it is a 2 case allocation of 22 oz bottles and you are in the top 24 you will have a bottle waiting for you, if you are out of the top, you will be put on the backup list and if someone backs out, you then move up the list.  Once the beer comes in and the list is posted, you have 2 full weekends to pick it up, unless you ask me for more time. If beers are left after 2 weekends then they will be released to the people on the back up list. On very rare beers that are highly wanted, I will sometimes hold a lottery to see who gets one.” – more than fair! Mike, the owner, is always thinking about his customers.

13680302_10154027046768124_8208465923326233063_oMike refers to himself as Evil SMAS but truth be told there’s nothing evil about him. Besides a great sense of humor he has a heart of gold and takes great pride in and is incredibly supportive of the community. He, his staff and customers are big supporters of It’s A Ruff Life Rescue and this Gal is continually blown away for all they do to help the pups.

Personally Mike and the crew at TRT have come through for this Gal more 11427236_386785641520396_5937872426991981547_nthan once helping me to find beers needed for guest appearances on very short notice.  On a few occasions he’s stopped what he was doing to go around his store taking pictures of beers and messaging me to see if I could use it or not. It saved me a ton of time and made things so much easier for me. No one is better at customer service than SMAS.

So next time your in need of beer I recommend heading over to Trenton Road Take Out where you’ll be greeted with smile and can enjoy a beer while shopping for beer and there’s a good chance you’ll run into this Gal there.

1521783_10151966438813124_365892336_nTrenton Road Take Out
http://www.evilsmas.com/
Facebook   Twitter @trt1024
1024 Trenton Road, Fallsington, PA

*with the new PA laws TRT will be selling wine in the near future!

“My Place”

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It’s A Ruff Life Fundraiser

This Gal is all about exploring and trying out something new. I’m not one to order the same thing at the same restaurant, I prefer trying whats local to the area over what I know and I definitely appreciate good service. As much as I like trying out new places there are times I want to go to “my place”. You know what I mean – the place close to home that has good beer, friendly service and they greet you by name when you arrive. There are two such places for me. Ok, three but Mama Rosa’s is BYOB and I’m talking about “my beer places”.

What I love about the area I live in, Mercer County, is the location. In just 40 short minutes I can be in Center City Philly, 1.25 hours to NYC and the nearest beach is only 45 minutes away – location, location, location. Which also, means I have some of the best beer places available at all times. This Gal feels very lucky to have all this at her finger tips but there are those days when I want to go out without really leaving the area. That’s when I head to “my place” – UNO’s Hamilton. Yup, UNO’s. Yes, UNO’s. Really, UNO’s.

I’m asked a lot what my go to beer place is and when I say UNO’s Hamilton I always get the same response – Really? The one near the movie theater? – YES! They have an amazing tap list that is right up there with some of the best lists both Philly and NYC have to offer. Bonus – it’s mere minutes from my house and right around the corner from where I work.

I too was surprised when I first heard about the beer being served at UNO’s. Fortunately, my brother and his co-workers clued me in pretty quickly. They have been enjoying UNO’s beer and lunch special offerings for a while now and were kind enough to let me in on the “secret” soon after the great beer started flowing. One of my favorite things in life is meeting my Hop Head Brother there for a beer. (It’s the little things)

They offer 30 beers on tap with all but a few being craft and the beer is FRESH with fast tap 13244836_1278671632143775_1169056652351891532_nrotation. If you hear of a beer on tap you want you best get there sooner rather than later. They offer growler fills, taster rounds and now have a Crowler machine. By the way all which can be enjoyed on the new outside beer patio that is dog friendly!

Besides the great beer they have a lot of fun beer related events and I strongly encourage you to follow them on Facebook so you’re kept in the loop and don’t miss out on the tap takeovers, beer dinners, beer breakfast and even a super fun Beer for Pups charity event during Philly Beer Week. You know how this Gal feels about beer places giving back to the community – awesomeness at it’s best and the UNO’s team and Weyerbacher rocked the event for It’s A Ruff Life Rescue.

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NCBC The Shapes of Hops to Come

Speaking of Philly Beer Week they were one of the first places in the burbs to start participating in PBW and their events are pretty amazing. So much so that the past two years I’ve participated in more PBW events at UNO’s than Philly. (no worries I still always make a few events in Philly as well). This past year they rotated through 157 different beers during Philly Beer Week. That’s a lot of great beer in a very short time. Told you it’s fresh and goes quick.

Besides kicking it during PBW they also participate in this Gal’s favorite holiday – Black Out Friday and have even made football enjoyable for this Gal. Now if you been following my blog for a while then you might remember my first post was about Football Sunday at UNO’s. It’s a win win for me and my football loving partner. I get to enjoy great beer and beer specials while he can watch all the games and enjoy his favorite food in life – pizza. Bonus, your movie ticket stub from the theater next door acts as a coupon – 10% off your food purchase. UNO’s also offers discounted movie tickets for the theater. I always like to see businesses working together in the area it’s a win for everyone.

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Maine Beer IV

So yes “my place” is UNO’s Hamilton and I hope to see you there soon.

Stay tuned my next blog will be about “my other place” Trenton Road Takeout this Gal’s go to beer store….