Friday, March 30, 2007

News: Goose Island IPA Declared "Best Beer in the World"

Kudos to Goose Island, one of Chicago's best known breweries. A BeerAdvocate article reports that Britain's craft brew cognoscenti Roger Protz has declared that Goose Island IPA “may just be the best beer in the world.” Protz is an accomplished beer writer, CAMRA member, and recipient of numerous awards, including Beer Drinker of the Year.

Of course, as the article points out, determining the "best beer" is a little like a author what his or her favorite book is or a musician what his or her favorite song is--so much depends upon subjective tastes (and a red wheelbarrow). All that being said, it's great to see Goose Island receiving accolades from across the pond. Goose Island is so widely available that sometimes it is overlooked in lieu of the rarer, more extreme beers. But Goose Island makes solid, consistent, and interesting beers and it's great to know that I can find it on tap all over town.

News: Alström Bros in NY Times

Beer Advocate - Respect Beer.

Just a quick note: I've mentioned before Eric Asimov's great columns in the NY Times. Asimov is the staff wine writer, but is also quite knowledgeable about beer and beer culture. In his most recent installment, Asimov profiles Todd and Jason Alström, founders of the beloved BeerAdvocate website and the new magazine (thanks to Jay Brooks for pointing me to this story).

Asimov advocates well for beer culture. He explains the scene, and does a great job advancing the beer geek cause in a way that is inclusive of all readers. Great to see sincere brewing coverage gaining ground in mainstream media.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Event: Jungle Jim's Spring Beer Fest

Jungle Jim's, the foodie paradise just north of Cincy, has announced the second annual Spring Beer fest. Here are the details from the email newsletter:

Come and join us for Jungle Jim's Second Spring Beer Fest! It is going to occur on Saturday, May 12, 2007 from 4 pm to 8 pm. It will be held in The Oscar Event Center at Jungle Jim's. The tickets are $35 for advance tickets and $40 for tickets at the door.

How to purchase tickets:

· At the coffee bar (in the beer and wine department)
· Customer service
· Call for reservations 513-674-6000 ext 7

What to expect at the Beer Fest:

· Meet brewery representatives

· Sample Import and American craft beer

· Food & Prizes

· Music – Phil Dirt and the Dozers
· Also a cash bar at Oscar's Pub until Midnight!

Readers of this blog know that I've spent a fair amount of time at Jungle Jim's tasting events. They've brought in Garrett Oliver (Brooklyn Brewery) and Dave Engbers (Founders) and have offered some amazing brews that I'm sure I could get not anywhere else. I'd expect more of the same, with some tasty surprises!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Events: Barrelhouse on Reds Opening Day

The start of the baseball season is just a little over a week away. Cincy's BarrelHouse will be celebrating with a customer appreciation day on Opening Day. Here are the details, via the RateBeer posting and the BarrelHouse website:
The BarrelHouse, along with Avril-Bleh Meats, is hosting a Customer Appreciation Day to celebrate the Reds opening day on April 2nd. The event will be from 9 am to 3 pm, and will feature $1 beers and $1 brats. There will be a $5 cover charge to get in, and there will be a raffle for prizes, including a pair of Opening Day tickets that will be given out at 1 pm. All proceeds from the event will be given to a local charity. Roll on down to the BarrelHouse and join us!

Also, don't forget to support your local brewery while you're cheering on your favorite team at your favorite ball park. RedLegg Ale is a natural, and is more widely available this year than ever before.

RedLegg Ale, named after the Cincinnati hometown favorite, is tasty stuff--one of the better red ales I've had (and I'm not particularly fond of the style). In fact, most of the BarrelHouse beers are excellent. They were strictly a brewpub for years, but have moved in the opposite direction and are now strictly a brewery. Too bad for us local folks--they used to have great bands play--but good news for folks living outside of Cincy. Hopefully, these beers will start getting distributed more widely.

Here's the address and other important stuff:

Monday, April 2nd from 9 am-3 pm
BarrelHouse Brewing Company
544-B West Liberty Street
Cincinnati, OH, USA

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Recap: St. Patrick's Day Pub Crawl

Several of us set out on a St. Paddy's day crawl Saturday, hitting some of Dayton's better beer bars. It's been about 3 years in the making--Alex and I were to do a crawl a few years ago, but each year, it hasn't worked out. Finally, this year, the stars aligned.

We started the morning at Boston's Bistro. They opened at 6 am, and business was steady and picking up when we arrived at 10:30. Boston's has a great selection of beers, and the draft selection featured most of Barrelhouse's line. Between the three of us, we sampled the Boss Cox Double Dark IPA (cask), the Red Legg ale, the Cumberland Pale Ale, the Hocking Hills Hefeweizen, and the Scotch Ale, as well as some requisite Guinness pints.

Lunchtime found us trekking across town to Taggart's (with a quick stop at Pug's Dog House for some Chicago-style hot dogs). Taggart's is a neighborhood bar that my wife's stepsister's husband co-owns with his sister. Taggart's is a great bar (round the corner from my house), with a regular following. We watch OSU football games there. Recently, Mike has been stocking more and more craft beers. For a while, you could get Beamish for $2.50 a pint and the Goose Island beers always seem to be on special. Recently, they've brought in Arrogant Bastard, which Mike tells me has been selling well.

We caught part of the OSU/Xavier basketball game, drinking Goose Island Kilgubbin's, Guinness, and Murphy's stouts, before mixing in shots of bourbon.

After picking up a cigar from the smoke shop next door, we headed to Tank's, where Benjamin joined us. More food and more bourbon. For the life of me, I can't recall which beer I had (that's probably due to the bourbon), but Tank's regularly has a great selection of bottled and draft beers.

Later, we parted ways with Benjamin and headed out to the clubhouse, a warehouse studio hangout that Shane rents with another mutual friend. Complete with a pool table, a bourbon bar, a killer record collection, and huge picture windows that offer great views of the city, the clubhouse is a perfect place to whittle away an afternoon or evening. Kyle and Nathan eventually joined us, and Kyle brought some Mt. Carmel's copper ale and some Dogfish Head Blue & White.

Finally, one last stop: the Trolley Stop, to see our friend Denise. The Trolley is another local hangout that usually has several interesting beers on tap. Saturday, we ordered rounds of Dogfish Head 60 min. IPA. Needless to say, after that beer, most of us were done for the night. But it was great to hit some Dayton beer hot spots without suffering the ubiquitous green beer.

Review: Hereford & Hops

What I love best about the regional nature of craft brew is that now, no matter where I travel, I seem to be able to find an interesting brewery, brewpub, beer bar, or brew that I can't get at home. Last week was no exception.

Wednesday evening, we were in Cranberry Township, outside of Pittsburgh, for a meeting on Thursday morning. I discovered, via BeerFly, that there was a brew pub about a mile from my hotel--Hereford & Hops. The Pennsylvania location is one of three--there's a restaurant in Michigan, and one in Wisconsin.

Hereford & Hops is a steakhouse and brewpub. It's fairly upscale, but still comfortable. The decor has a decidedly Irish theme--the bar is offset from the rest of the restaurant and looks very much like an Irish pub.

My co-workers and I were very impressed with the food. Two of us ordered the filet mignon, while Bill ordered the prime rib. In each case, the steaks were cooked to spec, and were tender and well-seasoned. Mine came with a baked sweet potato, which was a welcome break from the traditional baked potato or french fries.

The beers were solid. I drank a Hop Rocket and a Schwarzbier. One co-worker ordered a Whitetail Ale, while another had a root beer. I enjoyed the Hop Rocket. It was a pretty standard IPA. I could have stood it to have a more pronounced hop flavor, but I am admittedly a hophead, so others would probably find it strong enough. I also really enjoyed the Schwarzbier. It was smooth, with a roasted malt flavor that didn't overwhelm. I picked up a growler for some friends back home, as well as a growler of the Irish red.

A note about growlers. H & H will fill your growler and it's reasonably cheap--I think I paid $9.95. They also sell their own growlers, the kind with the flip-top lids. These are $17.95 plus $9.95 for the beer. It was a little more than I expected, but I should have asked about the growler price before I ordered it.

Overall, H & H was an enjoyable experience. The food was excellent and deserves high marks. The beer didn't blow me away, but it was all solid and well crafted. I'd give the food an A and the beer a strong B+.

The details:
Hereford & Hops
1740 Rt. 228
Cranberry Twp., PA 16066

Friday, March 09, 2007

Notes: Pub joke

In preparation for St. Paddy's Day, here is one of my favorite pub jokes:

One Saturday, an Irishman walks into a pub in New York, orders three pints of Guinness, and takes a seat at a booth in the back. He sips from one beer, then another, and another, until all three are gone. The barkeep watches but says nothing.

The next Saturday, the same Irishman comes into the bar, orders three pints, and starts sipping away at the beers. This time, the barkeep feels compelled to say something.

"You know, the beers would taste better if you ordered and drank them one at a time."

The Irishman looks at the barkeep, then back at the beers, and starts to explain:

"It looks odd, but it's a family tradition. See, I live here in New York, my brother lives in Sydney, and my other brother lives in London. Every Saturday, we each go to a pub and have a beer for each other. It helps us keep in touch."

Satisfied with the explanation, the barkeep goes back to the bar. And each Saturday, for weeks and months on end, the Irishman heads to the pub, where there are three pints waiting for him.

One Saturday about six months later, the Irishman comes into the pub, but instead of taking the three pints, he explains that he'll only be needing two pints that day.

"Sorry to hear about your brother," the barkeep says.

"Huh? Oh, my brother," the Irishman explains. "No, they're both fine. See, I've just quit drinking."

Review: Resi's Bierstube

Nope, I haven't quit drinking and I'm not dead, but it has been a busy time personally, so forgive the lack of posts. Lots to catch up on.

I'll start with a recent trip to Chicago. I was out in Evanston on business, but was able to meet up with my friend Larry, who is very active on the local literary scene. We hit Resi's Bierstube for dinner, mainly because his borther-in-law (Sonny) works there and because I'd heard much about it.

Resi's is one of the last remaining German biergardens in Chicago. Before my trip, I had read a review that stated that Resi's was like a German VFW hall. Can't agree more. The decor isn't much, but this place is still a find. If you like big, hearty Eastern European fare, as well as a wide selection of German brews, this is the place.

I tried a BBK, which I had never heard of. The bartender described it as a German pils, although the beer itself was too sweet and not crisp enough to be a pils. BeerAdvocate lists a BBK Dortmunder, which might be the same beer I tried. Either way, it was pleasant enough, but not something I'd get again.

I would, however, order the Aventinus I had as my second choice again. And again. And again. This beer was big and malty--very tasty. However, if I ever make it back to Resi's, it'll be tough to limit myself to just the beers I've had before. There were about 25 beers on the list, all authentically German or microbrews true to German styles. Very impressive beer list.

And the food was terrific, too. The picture isn't much to look at, but I had Knackwurst, with kraut and German potato salad. Delicious. Made my German heritage proud!

I've heard Resi's is even more spectacular when it's warm enough that you can sit out in the actual biergarden. That may be true, but I'd eagerly head back any time of the year.

The details:
Resi's Bierstube
2034 W. Irving Park Rd.
Chicago, Illinois, 60618