Category Archives: Brewery Reviews

The Beers of Ireland

13177087_10208242358129948_1821117855653905476_nThis Gal was fortunate enough to travel around the coast of Ireland for 8 action packed wonderful days. Ireland is a very clean and beautiful country, the people are friendly and, of course, there’s lots of beer. Now I know the first beer that comes to mind when one thinks of Ireland is Guinness…they go hand in hand. However, I quickly discovered there really is so much other wonderfully crafted local beer available.

On our first day  my companion and I had a bit of free time before the tour group was gathering so we started walking towards the Guinness store. We walked and walked and walked…our free time was dwindling and then I saw it! The sign for J.W. Sweetman Craft Brewery. Heck, one can get a Guinness ANYWHERE in Ireland (really it’s everywhere) but I knew I couldn’t get J. W. Sweetman beer everywhere. Seeing the brewery sign prompted me to develop a new beer plan for the trip – drink local. No worries I had a Guinness – actually 2 during my 8 days in Ireland but for the most part I sought out what was local to the area we were visiting and since we were in a new area almost daily I tried a nice variety of local beers. Craft beer is still a relatively new thing in Ireland and the bartenders almost seem apologetic when saying something is a craft beer. At each place if something didn’t stand out as local I would ask what was available from the area. Several times bartenders answered with – “…. but it’s a craft, is that OK?” YES!

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J.W. Sweetman Taster

J.W. Sweetman – Dublin
Amazing historic building with a beautifully ornate staircase, several small private seating areas and multiple levels. Service was superb and the prices very reasonable. The offered 7 beers on tap and this Gal had the pleasure of trying 5 of them. Full service food menu that is veg, meat and gluten free friendly.

Blonde 4.3% – Hints of hops with citrus and subtle malts.

Weiss 5% – Had the cloves and banana that I’ve come to associate with a weiss along with a delightful tangy finish.

Red Ale 4.8% – A true Irish Red Ale – Yippy! This is an easy drinking beer that offers sweet malts, caramel and just a tinge of cocoa.

Pale Ale 4.5% – West Coast Hops and dry hopped at that. Underneath the hops is a layer of malts citrus that combine for a medium mouth feel.

Porter 4.8% – So happy to have a porter and a good one at that. All the beers were great but this was my favorite from the taster round. First up is the rich roasted bitter coffee and chocolate with a smokey smooth finish. This a full-bodied beer.

That night I had to stop  at the little pub down the street from our hotel – The Ferryman. It’s a traditional Irish Pub overlooking the water that provides old world charm and a wide selection of brews. For my local selection I went with the McGargles IPA.

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McGargles IPA

McGargles IPA – Hello West Coast hops! It’s hops alright but there’s enough tropical flavors going on to help tone down the hops and end on a refreshing note.

The next town we stayed overnight at was Waterford. Yes, the home of Waterford Crystal. Also, home to Downes of Waterford Pub. Where they mix their own whiskey Henry Downes No. 9 Irish Whiskey. Now this Gal is not a whiskey drinker but I felt I must try the No. 9 since it’s not available anywhere else. Along with the whiskey I had a half pour of Metalman IPA from Metalman Brewing.

 

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Metal man IPA & No. 9 Whiskey

Downes Whiskey No. 9 – please keep in mind I know NOTHING about whiskey – all I can say is this was smooth.

Metalman IPA 4.3% – The citrus and floral announce themselves first followed by the hops adding up to a refreshing beer.

Killarney was up next. This town is so quaint and easy to get around. If you have the chance to visit Ireland make sure Killarney is on your list of towns to stay over in. I requested a local brew from the bar I was at and was poured a half pint of Cute Hoor Irish Pale Ale which I later found out was not local by indeed brewed by Heineken. As much as I wanted to keep it local it wasn’t always possible. I also wanted to make sure and try the OTHER Irish Stout Murphy’s which I prefer over Guinness. I later found out Killarney Brewing is in town but unfortunately time did not permit a visit.

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J.W. Sweetman Taster

Cute Hoor Irish Pale Ale 5% – Mild hops accented by pine overall the taste fades quickly

Murphy’s Irish Stout 4% – Much smoother than Guinness with a slightly

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Murphy’s

fuller body.

The town of Galway was the next chance for me to try a local brew and that I did with Galway Hooker Irish Pale Ale (yes, it’s mostly Irish Pale Ale’s that are available).

Galway Hooker Irish Pale Ale 4.4% – Similar to an

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Galway Hooker

American Pale Ale but with a bit more malts. Nice citrus aftertaste that tames the bitterness.

My final local brew was from a brewery in the town of Derry in Northern Ireland – Northbound Brewery No. 8 Kolsch Style. I enjoyed all the beers that I had the opportunity to try but the No. 8 was by far my favorite beer of the trip.

No. 8 Kolsch – The brewery makes of point of saying this beer is inspired by the German Kolsch which it cleary is but with a twist – a very smooth twist. Another words this has to be the smoothest Kolsch I’ve ever tried. The hops giveaway to the malts with a silky mouthfeel.

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08 Kolsch Style

This particular tour has you on the go so not a lot of down time but made the most of time I had and enjoyed sampling the brews of Ireland. I hope to one day return and see what’s the Emerald Isle has brewing.

 

 

 

 

 

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Kane, Dark City, Little Dog and more…

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Single Fin

This Gal’s review of my March Beer Crawl.

Kane Brewing
Facebook Twitter @kanebrewing

Small tasting room in the front and a much larger tasting room on the brewing floor. Kane is a bustling place on the weekend but the line for pours movies quickly. Love the use of barrels & old wood throughout the brewery. There are 17 beers on tap and they are available in as a 40z taste or full pour and responsibly priced.

Enjoyed taster pours of:
Single Fin Belgian Blonde 4.8%
Citrus, tropical fruits and earthy goodness – very fresh

IMG_4562Port Omna – all wonderful
1 with Cacao Nibs
1 with Mocha
1 with Milk Chocolate

Hop Lab 5.4%
Easy drinking citrus, pine and malts

Silent Night Imperial Stout 12%
Excellent – rich, silky and smooth

IMG_4569Dark City Brewing Co.
Facebook  Twitter @DarkCityBrewing

Something about this place really appealed to me. I loved all the wood and it just had an easy laid back feel to it. When you enter there is a long L shaped bar and plenty of seating along the glass wall overlooking the street. They offer 12 beers on tap available as full pours or a sample flight of 4. Only opened since January and doing things right.

Bond Street Brownie 4.8%
Great malts (had 2 Browns on tap – Go Dark City!)

Urban Decay (Tart Cherry) 10.1%
Imperial Stout – oh delis, nice rings on glass

Urban Decay Nitro (Chocolate Strawberry)
perfect combo

Born to Ruin Double IPA 10.1%
Good mix of hops

IMG_4573Little Dog Brewing
Facebook  Twitter @LittleDogBeer

What a wonderful little brewery is. Don’t let the size fool you great beer is being brewed at at Little Dog. Even though it was a busy afternoon at the brewery Gretchen (owner/brewer) took the time out of her day to chat with me and show me around the brewery. The beers are wonderful as is the atmosphere – a place where friends come to hang out. Speaking of friends Gretchen’s childhood friend works behind the tasting bar pouring beers for the patrons part of what gives Little Dog a quaint homey feel.

IMG_4578Macaroon 5.25%
Brown Porter brewed with chocolate & toasted coconut

Duck Boy Pale Ale 5.25%
fresh and nice balance of local hops

Gesundheit! Altbier 5%
Classic German-style amber ale

Seafarer’s Stout 5%
Irish stout – goes does easy

IMG_4583Asbury Festhalle & Biergarten
Facebook  Twitter  @APBiergarten

Paulaner Salvator 7.9%
Always a favorite even though it was served in a frosted glass.

Was curious how it would stand up to the various German Beer Halls I visited in Germany. Definitely an americanized version but still a lot of fun. Like the German Halls there’s community tables, it’s loud and crowded but the atmosphere isn’t German nor is the music. I was  pretty disappointment that my beer was served in a frosted glass. However, the food was very good. We enjoyed the potato pancakes, Blumenkohl & Hungarian Beef Goulash.

IMG_4589Beach Haus Brewery
Facebook  Twitter @beachhausbeer

If I had to pick just one word to describe Beach Haus it would be – FUN. This place just has a cool fun vibe to that makes you gather with a group of friends and spend the day enjoying each others company and good beer. Oh and they provide a true tour (love the various creative ways NJ Breweries find to get around the tour law).

artwork by local artist Corey Hudson

The tap room upstairs is very large with lots of windows and light. There’s a glass wall that over looks an Italian restaurant, with wood burning pizza oven, next door. You can bring food into the tap room from the restaurant. Unfortunately, I was so full from the day that I only had room to do two tastings of beer.

Herb's Rye & Toast Black IPA
Single Fin

Herb’s Rye American Wheat Beer 6.5%
very refreshing, easy drinking beer

Toast Black IPA 7.5%
Love black IPA’s and this one is wonderful

 

 

2nd Story Brewing Company

0022nd Story Brewing Company
Facebook  Twitter @2ndStoryBrewing

2nd Story Brewing Company is a welcome addition to the Philadelphia beer scene and with so many great beer options in the city of Brotherly Beer to choose from you might skip over one of the newer kids but I recommend you stop and check them out.

2nd Story has a rustic industrial feel to it with a long bar that takes up most of the wall to the right and multiple sitting areas throughout the downstairs. Something I absolutely loved (besides the beer) is the space between tables. Yes, the owners could  have fit in several more tables but instead chose to leave lots of breathing room between tables which gives each group/table a sense of privacy. Such a welcomed retreat from overcrowded dining areas.

There’s also an upstairs which is where the brewing takes place hence the name 2nd

Tilted Barn Farmhouse Burger
Tilted Barn Farmhouse Burger

Story. ; ) There’s also a smaller bar and some dining table upstairs which makes for a perfect spot for a private party.  On this particular night the area was empty and all the action was taking place on the main floor including a birthday celebration for a special someone – my awesome nephew! So happy my brother chose 2nd Story to celebrate his son’s 23rd birthday at.

Falafel
Falafel

2nd Story is a full service restaurant/bar with a diverse and tasty food menu and excellent service provided by Kelly. The beer selections are diverse as well and really offer something for everyone’s beer taste. During this Gal’s visit there were 10 beers on tap and one can do a flight of 4 5 oz pours for $8.50 (pints and growlers are also available) Naturally, this Gal chose to go with a taster round.

005Who Dunnit American Pale Ale 4.5% Hops, with odd after taste, sort of a dank funkiness mixed with herbs.

Pickers Pride Wet Hopped Ale 5%
One can taste the cascade hops in this nicely brewed ale. More and more this Gal is enjoying wet hopped beers.

Berliner Weisse 3.8%
Sour German wheat beer with a good amount of tartness that is counterbalanced by a saltiness.  You have a choice of it being served with raspberry or pomegranate syrup.

Fest Beer Oktoberfest 6.4%
A true classic Oktoberfest beer with earthy and sweet malts, hints of toffee and hops.

After the taster round was drained and the dinner consumed the group chose their dessert choices. Dessert for this Gal was a full goblet of Great Pumpkin Porter.

Great Pumpkin Porter 7.3%
This is a great combo of pumpkin spices, malt, vanilla and hints of a rum flavoring. Very clean, smooth and subtle pumpkin.  The house-made doughnut dessert is served with a small taster of the this porter and compliments the dessert nicely.

Small taste of Adsultium IIPA American Double IPA 8%
Yup, lots of hops and rightly so. Although, the honey helps to balance the hops.

Great Pumpking Porter
Great Pumpkin Porter

Overall 2nd Story Brewing Company is a great addition to the Philly Beer Scene. Located in Old City one could easily make it a stop on a beer crawl since it’s located across the street from Eulogy and around the corner from Khyber Pass.

Prism Brewing Company

FullSizeRenderqPrism Brewing Company
Facebook  Twitter @prismbeer

Go around to the back. No, really go to the back of the abandon looking building where you think nothing will be and you’ll have arrived at Prism Brewing Company. You’ll also feel as if you  entered something from a 70’s campy scream flick. Yea, Prism Brewing Company can be confusing to find and looks a bit sketchy from out the outside which makes it all that much more appealing.

Inside has a somewhat throwback biker/dive bar feel to it with several tables and a long wooden bar, dark atmosphere and arcade games. The bar overlooks the brewing floor but  when we towards the end of our stay and that added a nice touch to the atmosphere and livened things up a bit. Although, I have to say the glass overlooking the brewing floor was in dyer need of a good cleaning.

A limited bar menu is available from the “kitchen” behind bar and there are various weeknight specials too. FREE Bacon (take note House of Skip) on Wednesdays.

I was astonished to find out they have been in business for 5 years since I really just starting hearing about them in the last 6 or 7 months. It was at a recent beer festival that I had the pleasure of trying their Felony . It’s a Double IPA that was so smooth and coming in at 10% also a bit scary. This beer alone is the main reason I sought out Prism Brewing Company.

Since I had already had the pleasure of trying the Felony I decided on this visit  to try a few others from the 8 beers on tap. One can do a full taster of all 8 beers or half, plus pints are available as well. I went for the half taster since I had to drive – safety first.

FullSizeRender3ParTea Pale Ale 5.5%
This is an English pale ale brewed with black tea which you can really taste. An unique flavor with the tea overshadowing the malts and hops a bit but over all an enjoyable beer.

Funkzlia 6.6%
Light sour with spices and a maple syrup finish.

Mason’s Porter 4.8%
FullSizeRender6Hazelnut Coffee Porter – delish. My fellow beer taster for this trip tends to shy away from porters but loved this beer. The hazelnut is upfront and wonderfully rounded out by chicory, roasted malts and a ever so slight hint of vanilla.

Red Zone 6.6%
Fall Spiced Irish Red Ale with Spiced Sugar Rim – Yes a Spiced Sugar Rim! I wasn’t sure if I would like that but it was so tasty.  This is fall in a glass with all the spices you associate with the season, maple syrup and brown sugar. Make sure to get it with the sugar rim!

FullSizeRender2Prism Brewing Company is not far from Round Guys Brewing and this Gal highly recommends making an afternoon of it and visiting both breweries.

Round Guys Brewing

FullSizeRenderRound Guys Brewing
Facebook  Twitter @RoundGuysBrewer

Finally the day had arrived to go beer sampling at Round Guys Brewing and Prism Brewing Company. I picked up my companions for this latest beer excursion, plugged in the address for Round Guys in the GPS and we were on our way. It was a bit of drive but finally we were close so close the GPS announced we had arrived yet we were at a pizza shop not a brewery. We drove a bit more and decided to turn around thinking maybe we missed something. Indeed we did. The brewery is really around the corner in back of the pizza joint. In other words it can be a bit hard to find as is parking but we managed to do both.

The outside looks a bit upscale but upon entry you realize it’s a laid back bar. The décor is nondescript and the seating area is self is small but they make the most of the space with several tables and a large bar (with hooks underneath) that overlooks the brewing floor. The place was jumping when we arrived but fortunately we were able to snag the last available table.

Two of us had online coupons that were an amazing deal. For $15 each you received 2 pints, a take home pint glass and any food item from the menu. The food is mostly apps and sandwiches but offers something for everyone. I opted for the grilled cheese with jalapeños peppers. This Gal loves her hot peppers.

Even better was the beer menu with 15 beers on tap! The selection was varied and made choosing difficult. I decided to start with a pint of Take the Power Bock.

Take the Power Bock
Take the Power Bock

Take the Power Bock Dopplebock 7.6%
This Gal loves a well-brewed bock and this one is just that with loads of malty goodness with just a hint of hops to round it out.

Hipster Frogger Sour 6.6%
Don’t let the fact that it’s a sour scare you. Sours are wonderful and the degree of sourness varies with beers so be brave and sample sours whenever you get the chance. This Hipster is mildly sour and has that great sour funkiness to it that I just love. It was the perfect accompaniment to the jalapeños grilled cheese.

Round Guys Brewing is worth checking out. I’ve tried

Hipster Frogger
Hipster Frogger

several of their beers on the festival circuit and have always found them enjoyable. If you’re looking to make a day of it Prism Brewing Company is just a few minutes away and where my companions and I were headed next…

 

 

RG

Forgotten Boardwalk Brewing

IMG_3494Forgotten Boardwalk Brewing
Facebook  Twitter @ForgottenBoards

Allow me to make things clear right from the start. Forgotten Boardwalk Brewing is Fun, Fun, and Fun! As soon as you walk in you’re transported back in time to Atlantic City’s hey day. What makes this place works is the details, they nailed it, with themes it can go cheesey over the top but instead the concept was thought out and perfectly executed.

The bar area is a throw back to speakeasy days with wood shelving, a fun spin wheel in the middle and whimsical cat tail tap handles. There’s historic photos displayed through out the tasting room, fun house mirrors, perfect mood lighting that resemble street lights from yesteryear, skeeball machines (one of this Gal’s favorite boardwalk games) and the topping on the cake was the music. The music really sealed the deal for this Gal – classic vaudeville carnival type jazz music.

In no way is this place gimmicky just relaxing and fun. You tend to forget you’re in a warehouse until you look through the glass doors at the brewery then you’re brought back to the reality of present day. It’s hard to believe this is the same brewery that used to house Flying Fish Brewery.

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Taster right r to l.

The brewery may be a throwback to a bygone era but  the beer isn’t. David is brewing great innovative beers that stand out in today’s brewing world.

Title Deed Imperial Oatmeal Espresso Coffee Stout 7.5% – I love everything about this beer from the name, style to roasted chicory flavor. Yup, this Gal’s favorite. Unfortunately, no growler fills of this beer allowed. : (

The Tourist Plum Berliner Weisse  – surprised by the color sort of reminded me of coconut milk/water but the taste is very much a sour. Nice job.

Round Trip Hoppy Saison 7% Great balance of spices, bitter hops and refreshing citrus all balanced out by yummy malts.

1916 Shore Shiver IPA 6.9% Wow, the hops are balanced by a interesting combo of fruits (think nectarines ). I brought home a growler of this little delight.

IMG_3498Even the beer names are fun and be sure to read up on the story behind each name.
If you get hungry you’re welcome to bring in your own food from the outside. You’re welcome to either enjoy it inside why visiting another time period or outside in the fun beachy seating area.

IMG_3492I have to give high props to Jamie Queli, the owner,  she really captured the look and feel of a bygone era. IMG_3501

Andrew’s Brewing

IMG_3015Andrew’s BrewingLincolnville, ME
Facebook

Upon my arrival in Maine my brother informed me he found two more breweries for us to visit Andrew’s Brewing and Liberty Craft Brewing. I hadn’t heard of either but was certainly up for trying them. First up was Andy’s. This brewery has been around since 1992 and was one of the early pioneers in the Maine Craft Beer industry. The brewery recently moved into a small building attached to The Lobster Pound Restaurant. It’s an interesting arrangement,  the brewpub is in the restaurant and they are the same but different. Sort of two in one thing.  You can also view the brewery from a glass window in the bar area of The Lobster Pound.

Upon arrival we took a look at the small, but mighty, brewery set up and introduced ourselves to Ben, one of the brewers, who was friendly and welcoming. I say mighty because they had 11 beers on tap which is a hefty number considering the small size of the brewing area.

The brewpub/restaurant wasn’t as exciting. The decor, well it’s lacking something. The wood work is very rustic and beautiful (as in mulled tree truck bar) but the feel of the place is missing something. More color on the walls perhaps. It just doesn’t have that “I want to kick back for a while and hang out” feel that this Gal looks for. It was more of eat, drink and go sort of feel. However, the view is breathtaking and does beg for attention.

The brewpub sits right on the water’s edge of Licolnville. I recommend sitting outside and taking in the view – that’ll help with the kicking back part. Plus, the staff and locals are very friendly and it’s easy to strike up a conversation.

Although, the atmosphere wasn’t necessarily for me the beer was with 11 house beers on tap plus 2 guest taps. The beers are brewed English style and a tasting round consist of 4 4oz pours(pints & growlers are also available). At first I was concerned when I saw pint glasses being pulled from a refrigerator – frosted pints NO! – but upon inquiry I was relieved to hear none refrigerated pints glasses were also available. The breweries preference for serving their english style ales but some locals prefer refrigerated glasses and they’re happy to accommodate everyone – very understandable.

 Of course, this Gal and her hop head brother had to go for taster rounds. We decided to do 3 rounds so we could try all the beer and the guest tap of mead.
Here we go:
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IPA 5.6% The standard citrus & hops combo taken down a notch. Enjoyable but not outstanding.

English Pale Ale 5.5% Very enjoyable with the usual combo of malt, hops and caramel toasted to EPA goodness.
Shandy 4.5% Shandies are one of my least favorite styles but this was a nice balance of lemon and good summer beverage.

Gold 4.1% Really good! Normally neither my bro or I are a fan of this style but this ended up being one of the favorites for both of us. Excellent!

Red 6.5%  Yay a red! Malts, toffee and a slight bitter finish made this another winner. At first my brother was so so about it but tried it with a piece of toffee which complimented the beer nicely and brought the toffee goodness out of the beer. Remember food can really alter your perception of a beer. If in doubt pair it up.

IMG_2933Stout 7.8% This was a lighter body stout but, than again, they’re brewing English style beer. Overall the flavor was good it’s just that this Gal’s prefers a bit more chewiness to her stouts.

Porter 6.1% A lighter body porter but still tasty with bitter after notes that this Gal enjoys.

Brown 4.4% – Woohoo a brown! By now you know how this Gal’s feels about browns – always happy to see them represented and this one represented in a good way with baked bread earthiness, toasted malts and accents of fruit.

Scottish 5.8% If I see a Scottish Ale on a menu I will pretty always add it to my taster round. I just love trying out this style. This particular one was very well done and ended up being one of this Gal’s favorites for the day! Just the right amount of malt, herbs and subtle smokiness to it.

Blueberry– This was blueberry beginning to end from the time it hits your nose and has the follow threw. I’m not a fruit beer Gal (Lambic exceptions) but for those looking for a fruit beer look no further this is everything you hope for and more.

Black & Tan 6%
So happy to see a black & tan on the menu and this one was a good combo of their porter and pale ale. I later mixed this with some blueberry which helped balanced out the fruit for me. Yup, it’s ok to exterminate with your beers. Don’t be afraid to experiment!

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Mead the mead was from Michigan on the guest tap and ummm, nope still not a mead Gal.

Favorites – Golden, Red, Brown & Scottish

This Gal is certainly interested to see how Andrew’s continues to grow in the brewing world. I look forward to a return visit and taking in the view while enjoying a beer.

Yup, that's the view!
Yup, that’s the view!

 

Maine Beer Company

This Gal first spotted Maine Beer Company, in Freeport, last year on the drive up to summer vacation. At the time I was unable to stop in but promised myself a visit the following year.

l had several breweries on my wish list for this this year’s Maine vacation. However, Maine Beer Company was at the top. After all, I waited a whole year for this moment. When I first spotted the brewery in 2014 I hadn’t heard of it before but that was no longer the case. During the past year Maine Beer Company has been making news in the beer world and time and again making the top beer lists.

From the outside there doesn’t appear to be anything special happening at 525 U.S. Route 1, Freeport, ME. The brewery is very much like it’s beer labels…Simplistic. Housed in a white farm style structure with a simple blue sign stating that’s it’s Maine Beer Company and small outside seating area.  The inside is just as simple  and tranquil with white walls, white blank canvas art, a few picnic and barrel tables and an occasional burst of color from a fresh flower sprig. Seriously, these folks let the beer do all the talking.

IMG_2900One thing this Gal did notice upon arrival were the solar panels. In fact, Maine Beer Company is incredibly eco and community friendly.  Partnering with several area business, supporting various local organizations and artist. Oh and they compost AND support a local cat rescue. My goodness this place was made for Geeky Beer Gal! That’s right this solar power on her chateau, composting, animal rescuing, beer loving hippy has found the one and only peaceful retreat known as Maine Beer Company.

IMG_2910After taking in all the beautiful simplicity of the place it was time taste their beer. Naturally, I was going for the taster round of all 8 beers on tap. 8 beers 5oz pours $18, can do individual pours or 4 pour taster. Also, pretzels and snacks are available, there’s a food truck outside and you can bring food in from elsewhere.

I was a bit perplexed that several beers on the taster round  were various styles of Pale Ales or IPA’s but no worries this Gal enjoyed them all along with the stout and amber too.

IMG_2906Now onto the beer reviews:

Pilot 7 – American Pale Lager 5.5%
A hoppy lager with hints of the tropics. Very crisp, clean and easy to drink.

Peeper Ale – American Pale Ale 5.5%
Very light in flavor with just specks of lemon, melon and floral to compliment the hops.
Lunch – IPA 7%
Brewed in the West Coast IPA style Lunch offers lots of hop flavor accented by pine and citrus which makes Lunch very refreshing. Bought a bottle to share with my Hop Head Brother who also found it very enjoyable.

Another One – IPA 7% – I think this makes a good intro IPA beer to those who may not be IPA fans. The hops are there but in subtle way that renders the beer smooth without the hops after bite. At 7% this beer can really sneak up on you.

Zoe – Amber 7.2%
Love! This beer offers the malt/hops balance that I’ve come to love.  Malt, hops, dark fruit and cocoa all add up to a delish beer. A few bottles of this beer came home with me.

Mo – American Pale Ale 6% – A lovely beer that got better with each sip. Once again there was pine (it’s Maine there should be pine) and citrus balanced by the malts.

A Tiny Beautiful Something – American Pale Ale 5.5%
There really is something beautiful about this beer. It’s so smooth, silky and clean. It’s freshness is pleasing and relaxing. This is a single hop ale using the El Dorado hops.
Mean Old Tom (nitro) – American Stout 6.5%

No worries still a stout gal at heart – pure heaven! Chicory, cocao, & dark fruits accented by vanilla combine to make a delightful stout. There’s nothing mean about this beer.  Bought a few of these to take home. This Gal showcased Mean Old Tom on the episode 7/25/15 of What’s On Tap.

Indeed Maine Beer Company was worth waiting a whole year to try and yes, I’m already planning my visit for next year.

IMG_2908Side note: This Gal had some troubles sitting down to write this review. Why?  I wanted to make sure to convey just how incredibly special Maine Beer Company and the beer they brew is.  I hope I did them justice.

 

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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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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.