2/20: I dragged my protesting body out of the sack at
5:20 AM. This is not something I make any kind of habit of.
But I had a mission. Cathy and I quickly showered, dressed, and gulped
some breakfast (I had roast beef and cheese on a poppy seed bagel; it's
significant), kissed the kids (and my parents) good-bye, and vaulted
into the Jetta. Away at high speed: we had to get to Buffalo by 1:00!
Once again, I'd been invited to Barker Brew in
Fredonia, NY, for their Winter Brews and Blues Fest and homebrew contest
judging. I enjoy the hell
out of Joe Rogers' beer and his company, so I happily accepted. And
since I do what I do...I started hanging other goals onto the trip.
After all, if I'm going to drive a thousand miles, I'm getting something
out of it!
We flew up through PA and NY, making great time.
It was a fine day...till we got about 20 miles south of Syracuse, when
it started -- "Cath, look, it's snowing!" I said. She turned
to me with that 'I'm in the presence of an idiot' look and said,
"Yes, it's Syracuse."
Fair enough. I know what to do with Syracuse. I pulled off at a gas
station, filled up, and called Middle Ages
Brewing. I got Mike,
explained my situation, and after getting a certain amount of abuse and
directions, got back in the car and headed into town. Cathy and I were
soon under the happy care of Tim Butler, who immediately saw that
we were thirsty.
First stop: Wailing Wench, their new IIPA. Well,
yow. It was full-bodied in its bitterness, and packing a solid punch of
malt behind it. Tim and I chatted about Syracuse's long winter a
bit, then he poured us a sample of Kilt-Tilter, their big Scotch
ale. Mmmmalty, with some big Ringwoody esters. I'll take 'em! We got a
growler of each to take along to Fredonia. After all too short a visit,
we had to bolt; I had a schedule to keep!
And keep it I did, pulling into Schwabl's at 1:00.
Those of you who've got New York Breweries know Schwabl's as the
best place I found for beef on 'weck (and if you don't have New York
Breweries, what the heck are you waiting
for?), and I was determined to sink my teeth into the juicy stuff.
Particularly at this time of year, because from Thanksgiving to St.
Patrick's Day, Schwabl's serves Tom and Jerry's, a hot toddy with a
sweet, heavy meringue topping dusted with nutmeg. I rather stupidly
noted the drink as whisky-based in the book; it is a rum and brandy
concoction. Mea culpa, I'm quite embarrassed...but happy to have
had the chance to go back and correct my impression!
The beef was divine, and even Cathy tore into it,
she of the grilled veggie wraps. When beef's this good, you just gotta.
The crunch of the salt, the tear of the soft meat, the zip of the
horseradish, the loft of the roll, it all comes together so wonderfully.
God, I love 'em! Even though it was my second roast beef sandwich of the
Back on the road, last leg. We sailed down the
Thruway in bright sunlight, Syracuse's small snowstorm left behind. We
checked in at the Ramada in Dunkirk, freshened up, and headed over to
Fredonia. We were right on time...and things were running quite late.
Just after we arrived and greeted Pepper Pike, the general manager and
owner Bobbi Pike's very pleasant daughter, Pepper got a call from Tim
Herzog of Flying Bison. Tim was running about two hours late, and he had
about half the homebrews we were supposed to judge.
So we waited. And had a couple beers: the pale
ale was pouring nicely. And Joe arrived and we talked. Then Ted (of the Great
Box of Whiskey last year) arrived, and I hauled out my bottle of
Australian market bourbon, Sam Cougar Black and we all tried some. We
talked more: Ted was really a regular now, having bought a house up the
hill that enabled him to walk home. Nice.
Finally Tim showed up with his wonderful wife, Betsy.
And the homebrews. We got right down to judging. We had 19 beers to
judge, and Tim and I got the short half. We did get one really good
porter, which came in second overall (behind a Scotch Ale that was
pretty damned good), but most of the beers we had were full of the
cidery taste of too much corn sugar, or suffered from a heavy hand with
spices. What made it rough was overhearing Joe, Paul Koehler
of Pearl Street and Paul's friend Victor exclaiming over some of
the beers they were tasting at the next table. Lucky boogers.
When that was over, we had dinner. First, a pint
of Scotch Ale! Mmmm, fruity esters, big malt, fresh. We got a huge dish
of the best spinach and artichoke dip I've ever had, which I followed up
with...oh, damn, my food memory has failed me for once. I can't remember
what I had, because I spent the whole dinner staring at Tim's order of
ribs and thinking "why didn't I get those?" I can't
believe that's put my dinner completely out of my head! I do recall that
Tim bought dinner: thanks, Tim.
We had a long day the next day, so Cathy and I
retired to the motel fairly early. We read a bit, I logged into my
regular Friday night beer chat (we're on www.Starchat.net
in the No Bull Inn, sometime after 11 PM Eastern, if you ever want to
join us), and then hit the sack.
We got up the next morning feeling fairly perky.
We got right on the road, figuring to get breakfast on the way south to
Jamestown; I had an appointment at Southern Tier
caught a great meal at Grandma's Kitchen in Cassadaga, where it started
snowing out of a windy gray sky.
By the time we got to Jamestown, the snow was
blowing across the roads and Cathy was getting nervous. We rolled on
down to Lakewood, took a left off Rt. 394 and carefully climbed the
hill, made the two turns and eased into the parking lot. Southern Tier
is in half of a spec building, put up by the county to lure businesses.
They were first, and now there's a brass fittings manufacturer in the
other half; the idea's working well, I'd say.
Matt Robbins was running a few minutes late, so
we listened to music, read, and watched the snow come down. He did show
up, we went in, and had a look around.
First stop: tasting room! Hey, if Matt didn't
care that it was 9:45 AM, neither did I. We got some Pilsner in
right quick, and it was good stuff; not sizzlingly hoppy, just firmly
bitter in a solid body, actually a pretty good breakfast beer. We had
some of the Mild that STBC was touting as their flagship -- and
Matt told us that the Mild was probably going away: not selling.
That's when I made the mistake of saying: too
bad, I'd have liked to try that on cask. Turns out that Matt is not a
fan of cask ale. Actually, that's putting it mildly, he's pretty much
anti-cask! Hey, okay, some brewers hate lagers, what the hell. At
least I can follow his reasoning: Matt likes his beer to be exactly
what he means it to be, not what it becomes after it leaves the brewery
and maybe gets messed with by someone else.
That's why STBC's beers are all exceptionally clean.
He takes great care (and great pride) in that. They're almost the ale
equivalent of lagers. The IPA, which we had next, was a great
example: brisk, breezy hops over a bed of malt...and that's it, nothing
else in the way. This is clean beer, made with clean yeast. Even the Porter
(my favorite STBC beer) is clean, just some hints of roastiness, a
mildly rich beer that just tastes great going down.
Matt showed us around the brewery, an
exceptionally clean facility (no surprise there, surely!), and we
tank-sampled the upcoming wheat beer, a wheaten ale (no phenols here,
folks!) with a big bite of hops, kind of reminded me of the last years
of Wild Goose Spring Wheat.
How's STBC doing? Great, Matt told me, they're
poised to really break out in New York, on schedule with their business
plan and moving ahead. We headed for the door, and Matt stopped us just
before we went out. "Look," he said, "I'm sorry if I
sounded, I don't know, cocky in there..."
"Don't be," I told him. "Why would
I like your beer if you don't? Be as cocky as you like." We shook
hands and Cathy and I got in the Jetta and took off. We went out to Rt.
20 and headed north through snow-covered vineyards (mostly growing
grapes for Welch's) back to Fredonia and the fest.
The Fest of Beer
Things were starting to pop by the time we got to
Barker. Rohrbach was set up next to us, and Paul and Victor
were on the other side, pouring Paul's pretty damned delicious
Oatmeal Stout (more on that in a second). Who else? Well,
Matt showed up with the Southern Tier stuff, Ron Carlson brought the
estimable IPA and Sled Dog Doublebock from Wagner Valley,
bless his soul; Tim brought his Aviator Red in a cask,
properly primed and conditioned (and more and more tasty with every
sip); Lake Placid showed up, with the sizzlingly hoppy
Frostbite and a somewhat muddy version of Ubu. I have this
horrible feeling I'm forgetting someone; if I am, correct
More about Paul's Oatmeal Stout: Paul was very
proud of his keg setup. Look at the crap brewers have to schlep around:
a keg (minimum 60 lbs.), gas tank and regulator (minimum 25 lbs., plus
hoses flopping around), a cold box or bolt-on tap tower (minimum 30
lbs.). Paul had a 5 gallon soda canister of stout (60 lbs.) that had a
little adaptor on it that fit a shorty CO2 cartridge about
the size of a Whippet (about two packs of gum, for those of you who
never abused Whippets), a simple hose tap he kept in his hand (<1
lb.) and two backup cartridges he kept in his shirt pocket.
He was really proud of himself, and
pointed out other advantages. "You can get these in 3 gallon sizes,
too," he said. "Put it in a five-gallon bucket with ice and
take it down on the breakwater fishing; everyone thinks it's a bait
bucket!" Crafty guys, these craft brewers.
I had more stuff than that! Cathy and I set up
the banner, the TV (for playing the Pennsylvania Breweries tape),
the books, and the bait: a 1.5 liter bottle of Hanssen's Kriek. I
figured I could get more people to my table if I was pouring beer too.
It worked, and people really liked the Kriek, but they didn't buy
many books. Kinda backfired in that respect. But I sure turned a lot of
people on to lambic!
The fest rolled on, as did the snow and wind. My
brother-in-law Chris and wife Katie showed up, shortly afterwards my
wife's cousin Jason and his wife Lonnie showed up with two friends. We
all hung around, pouring lambic, drinking a lot of Frostbite and Oatmeal
Stout (and probably too much Sled Dog), and talking. When the lambic ran
out, I started pouring the growlers of Wailing Wench and Kilt-tilter
I'd gotten from Tim the day before, and they were almost as popular as
The Fest wound down. It was a pleasant one, as it
was last year. Not a lot of people, but enough, and it was a real nice
crowd. As things closed down, I started carrying stuff out to the Jetta
(getting whipped by the wind-driven ice) and listening to Much More
Chill, the male a capella singing group from the college in town.
By the time everything was out to the car and I had a pint in my hand, I
was enjoying the hell out of myself listening to these guys singing
All good things must come to an end, though; if
they didn't, how would we know when to do the next good thing? We
gathered at the bar, talking trash and drinking Joe's Pale Ale, mostly.
There was a beer dinner on for that night, but I just couldn't resist
those terribly distracting ribs from the night before, so I bagged the
beer dinner and joined the big family table Cathy had started. I got
into Joe's Scotch Ale and those ribs, and by gawd, they were tender and
delicious indeed. I must have been a bit spliffed, as I walked next door
(in the blowing snow) to try to climb up on top of the Spaghetti
Kitchen's roof to untangle the American flag...luckily, there was no
easy way up.
Now it was close to time for our basement bourbon
session. Cathy deserted me (too busy talking to Jason and Lonnie),
Bobbi deserted Joe (too busy working), and we deserted everyone else:
Joe, me, Paul, Victor, Ron, and Ted headed for the brewery basement with
two boxes of bourbon and Joe's bag of cigars. Joe told me later that he
thought more people wanted to know about this session than about the
Fest. Sorry, folks, no room!
I can't tell all the stories. Some of them were
disgusting, some of them were only funny if you were intoxicated, and
some I just don't remember. Some bits: I went out to the Jetta and
retrieved Boxed Set, by Jug Fusion (the cigar box guitar boys I
talked briefly about here) and that was
our soundtrack as the blues band played upstairs. Cigars and pipes
created a fug of smoke: Ron had a cigar that had dried out terribly, but
he insisted on smoking it even as the wrapper disintegrated. "Looks
like it was rolled by a leper," Joe muttered. Joe and Ted
practically rolled on the floor with delight as they sampled my bottle
of George T. Stagg. I was pretty pleased with Joe's bottle of Weller
Antique. "Smoke like a man," I urged Victor, tossing
him a pouch of unflavored tobacco to stuff in his pipe instead of the
vanilla-tainted blend he'd purchased. "What now, beetle!
What now!" Victor taunted a dead tobacco beetle...
Oh, well, like I said. Some of it was only funny
to us. We laughed ourselves sore, and finally called it a night fairly
early, around 1:00. Cathy showed me the way to the car, I somehow
directed her back to Dunkirk, and we hit the hay.
We got up fairly early, showered and dressed, I
did a little work on the laptop, we packed and checked out and joined
the brewers and homebrewers for brunch at the Ramada. Good food, I was
shocked, to be honest, but Chef Ken, man knew what he was doing. We ate,
Paul showed up with a severely hungover Victor ("I would like two
very large glasses of milk, please."), and we got down to our
"panel discussion." We talked about styles, we talked about
porter, and we handed out awards to the homebrewers who'd come. It was
all real nice, and then we had to leave. I've really gotten to like
these guys, and don't see them nearly often enough.
We spun south on the Thruway. Just after crossing
the PA border, we headed south, and made our way to Titusville. I was
looking for Four Sons Brewery Restaurant, PA's newest brewpub; so
new it wasn't even open yet. They were having a kind of practice dinner
for the owner's family, the contractors, and the like later in the day;
we got there about 1:30. The brewpub's pretty much right in the middle
of town on Franklin St. We parked, girded for journalistic battle (I put
my camera and notebook in my shirt pocket), and walked in.
Matt Allyn was cleaning the brewhouse, and was
therefore happy to stop cleaning and talk beer for a while. (The
brewhouse is the 7 bbl.s system that used to be at Poor Henry's.)
Matt's a very energetic and knowledgeable fellow, had a big hand in the
planning of the brewpub. It's in an old brick building that used to be a
bank (you can still see the reinforced floor where the vault was) during
the oil boom days; John D. Rockefeller had an office on the second
floor. It's one high-ceilinged room, with attractive concrete-topped
tables, something I've seen a fair amount of lately. The bar is also
concrete-topped, smooth and sealed.
Turns out Matt is a local boy, went to high
school over in Quarry (with Sean McIntyre, formerly at Valhalla, who's
now doing consulting on the upcoming Slipper Rock brewpub, North
Country). He's happy to be home, and happy to be in a brewpub after
brewing at Erie. "Pubbing's more fun," he told me. "All
the breweries I've done, except Copper Canyon in Detroit, were in small
towns. I brew, and I talk to people." Four Sons looks like a good
place to practice that philosophy. "There are a lot of people
excited about this," Matt said. "A lot of beer geeks around
here, even if they are rednecks."
The "Four Sons" are owner Thom Sauber's
four boys, and four of the beers are (loosely) named for them. Let's
talk about the beers, because they're going to be a major draw.
Titusville Lager is a helles, and is, if anything, maybe even a bit too
malty...not that I'm complaining. Plissken Pale Ale is a clean, hoppy
pale ale, a standard. Big K is a light wee heavy, good malt flavor
without the thumping size. Rebecca's Revenge was the only disappointing
beer, a schwarz that was a bit thin, and strangely smokey. E's SB is a
7% ABV "Extra Strong Bitter," big and estery, a pleasing pint.
Dead Tony's Triple (named for a worker who died during construction of
the pub; hope he had a sense of humor!) was very creamy, 9.2%,
spicy, and rich. Monkey Run Oatmeal Stout was full of Belgian biscuit
and Special B malts and just unearthly smooth. Impressive line-up.
Matt's got little "Fresh Kegs," a
self-contained, self-tapping beer and gas setup. They hold 1.3 gallons,
and he plans to sell them in-house, to set on tables. "I'm
against pitchers," he said, then smiled. "But I like
I hope they make it. All the ingredients are in
place, all they need is customers. Sauber and Allyn and chef Jeremy
Potocki have put together a menu and beer experience unlike any other
outside of Erie. I hope that's enough. It should be, but who knows? Stop
off I-80 and see.
We headed south from there to I-80, crossed under
it and headed south to Foxburg. I was looking at DeLorme's
PA Gazetteer (an excellent set of maps, I highly recommend the series),
and while it has everything...sometimes everything is too much. Which is
how we wound up driving five miles down a dirt road that was covered in
melting ice and mud. It got hairy at moments, especially on this one
sharp curve at the bottom of a ravine. But the Jetta's light and
power-packed, even at its advanced age, and we soon clawed our way to
the two-lane into Foxburg.
I'd come across the Inn at Foxburg by accident on
the Web, just doing a search and catching the trail of a brewpub. After
6 months, here I was. The place was, as I'd been told, set in an
absolutely stunning location. Foxburg is a tiny town (with what they
claim is America's oldest public golf course) perched on the east bank
of the Allegheny River. The Inn, a big, rambling, ski-lodge-looking
place, sits right down by the river and has a tremendous view
downstream. I loved it.
My ardor cooled a bit when I saw the brewhouse.
It's an extract system, which rarely means great beer, and often means
pretty mediocre stuff. That was to be the story here, unfortunately. We
got a table in the barroom and were very attentively waited on. We
ordered appetizers (which turned out to be delicious) and I ordered a
bock. It was pretty non-descript, and just a tiny bit sour. Okay, how
about a red ale? It looked almost identical, tasted pretty much
identical, too. Bad sign. Dinner was good and bad: the grilled lamb and
rice were quite good, the white...stuff served with the lamb (which I
thought should have been minted yogurt, given the rest of the dish)
tasted like ineptly made mayonnaise. Service continued to be good,
though, and the view was tremendous....and they had Yuengling on tap. A
pity they chose to add a so-so lineup of cheaply made beers, that's all.
Not much more to tell. We took some pictures, got
back in the Jetta, and headed home. A really nice weekend, plenty of
good beer, and a great time with people we like hanging out with. We
actually got to do a little more of that two weeks later, when Bobbi and
Joe were in New Jersey on business and we met them for beers...but that
was personal, not business, so I'll leave that (though I will tell you
to get to the Ship Inn in Milford and get the cask ales, and maybe a
dram of Redbreast!).
Friday the Firkinteenth XI
2/13: Friday the Firkinteenth,™ for those of
you who somehow managed to miss me howling about its wonder, is one of
the most excellent little beer events I know of. First, it happens every
the Thirteenth, an amusing novelty. Second, it's not a ticketed
event, it's just open doors at Mike "Scoats" Scotese's place,
Lodge Pub in northeast Philly. And third, it's all about real
Ale is something you need to know more about. Real ale, or cask
ale, is a very special variety of beers from the British tradition.
These beers are served the way almost all beer used to be served: alive.
All beer, even Michelob Ultra, are alive at some point, alive
with yeast. Live beer is constantly, subtly changing, which is why beers
are matured, to achieve the right balance of flavors. Then, usually, the
beers are pasteurized and/or filtered to stop the fermentation and
Not real ale. Real ale lives! The idea of real
ale is two-fold. First, it leaves the brewery unfiltered and
unfinished. The whole idea is that the beer reaches its peak of
flavor at the bar when it's about to be served, not in the
brewery, at which point it starts going downhill. The beauty is that
this means the beer is unbelievably fresh; how else, it's just finished!
The second part can be a little hard to get. Real
ale is all about change, and it's about natural carbonation.
These two come together in how the beer is served. A cask is placed in
the cellar of a bar, and it works, it ferments. CO2
gasses off to some extent through a semi-porous wooden plug in the top
of the cask, leaving the beer with a very pleasant low fizz. When the cellarman
decides it's reached peak condition, he taps it. But once
the cask is tapped, the plug is taken out and air is let into the cask;
you have to, otherwise, the tapping would create a vacuum that would
keep beer from flowing.
Air in the cask means the beer has a very short
shelf-life. Once a cask is tapped, it will last 5 days at the very
most before becoming undrinkably oxidized and sour. (There are some tech
doodads that you can use to keep a low-pressure "blanket" of
CO2 on the ale -- cask breathers -- but the Brits
eschew their use, calling them non-traditional. I think they're nuts,
but...) That's why you don't see a lot of cask ale in
Except in places like the Grey Lodge. There's a
cask on all the time, now, and on these insane triskaidekalian evenings
there are 10 and more. That was the case on February 13, when I arrived
at 5:35 PM to find no parking spaces on or in the street (this stretch
of Frankford Ave. is one of the Philly streets where you "can"
park in the middle of the street) already! Around the block I went, and
parked in our usual spot, then walked down to the G-Lodge.
Wall-to-wall! Scoats had said he wasn't going to
tap until 6:00, but there were so many people there, he went ahead and
tapped a little after 5. He had fifteen casks to pour, so he
tapped off eight of them, to be followed by the balance at 9:00. I ran
into Brian O'Reilly of Sly Fox right inside the door, and the boy
says, "Can I get you a beer?" Sure! He got us pints of Nodding
Head Imperial IPA right away: one of the best beers of the
Why do I say that? I mean, me, the guy who said
he's "fighting imperialism"? Because
this was a beauty: a big beer, a wickedly hoppy beer, but the beautiful
condition of it, the low carbonation and the right-there-in-your-face
esters of it, smoothed all that out and you got a brilliant glass of
beer that you never would have guessed was as strong and hoppy as it
really was. Great work, Brandon Greenwood, and I was able to tell he and
his boss Curt Decker, because they were standing right there.
So was Good Old Jack Curtin, who would be luring
me off to other debauchery that night, but not yet. First I had work to
do. I met a WHYY crony and fellow
author, Lari Robling and her husband Bill...and her DAT machine. We
were going to tape a segment for "Jim Coleman's A Chef's
Table," the syndicated NPR radio show I've
been appearing on. So we dragged Scoats out back (where it was kinda
quiet, except for all the sirens due to the huge gas fire in Olney) and
interviewed him, then dragged O'Reilly out and interviewed him. (Later
note: for a variety of reasons, one of which was those sirens, the story
never got on the air. A shame.)
Free to drink at last! Except now the place was
so crowded it took me ten minutes to get halfway to the front. Luckily I
met friends along the way who were sitting at the bar and let me buy
them beers in order to get some of my own. Had the treacle-conditioned Perkuno's
Hammer, and it was the very balls, full, rich, plummy, roasted, and
shakingly lively ("treacle-conditioned" means Tom Baker dosed
it with a shot of treacle to get the yeast roused up and working; most
brewers use brewing sugar or fresh wort).
Next I got an Iron Hill Old Ale, full-bodied and
just a bit musty, with a definite wood note to it. Wood? I got a chance
to ask Iron Hill brewer Chris Lapierre about that. Was it
barrel-aged? No, but he put 60 grams of oak chips in the firkin!
Ah ha! I was glad to hear it, no one else thought it was wood-aged and I
thought I was losing my mind. ("Just because there was oak in
it," Chris reminded me, "doesn't mean you're not losing your
mind." Thanks, old buddy, old pal.)
Next was a rather yeasty Manayunk Buster Brown.
Not necessarily the brewery's fault; Scoats acknowledges that his
sometimes rough-and-ready handling of the casks causes the yeast to be
stirred up. At first I thought the Buster Brown was sour, gone bad, and
adamantly told Brian O'Reilly that. "No, it's not," he said
even more firmly. Damn it, Brian, you're always so sure of yourself, this
stuff is sour! "No, it's not. Taste it. Think yeast. You're
tasting yeast bite." And by golly, he was right. Smart guy, that
More beer! Dogfish Head Aprihop, first time on
cask for me. Very smooth, not much apricot, or at least if it was
there, it was flying under the ester radar. I tried a sip of Bill's
glass of the John Harvard's Heather Ale brewed by G-Lodge
semi-regular Tony Wyatt; interesting, but with the cask's low
carbonation it tasted more like a tea than a beer. Higher fizz-factor
works better with this one.
Flying Fish Big Fish, on the other hand, was
better from cask than it was on push on Groundhog Day; smooth, fruity,
and not as assertively hoppy. Then it was time for the last beer of the
round, General Lafayette Scotch Ale, and by damn, I liked it.
Great malt depth and sweetness, layers of flavor, a real deep one and a
reason to do cask ales.
About this time I found out that there were
actually people waiting to get in the bar, standing in line in 30°
cold! Understand, you who've never been: there was no live band, no
entertainment, no giveaways, no Cask Ale Girls, there was only
cask ale. FABULOUS!!! I had to go see these people. (I didn't
take pictures, I thought that would be rude!) I held onto
my beer glass (so I could get back in!), and saw, oh, Eddie Friedland of
Friedland Distributing, Chris Trogner and Ed Yashinsky from Tröegs,
John Frantz from Lancaster Brewing (Scott "St Obnoxious"
Balthaser was with him), and hey! My wife! Cathy had come down
with her friend Rose Ann, and now she couldn't get in. This wouldn't
I went back in, gathered up Jack and Rich Pawlak,
and we all piled into the minivan and drove off to Johnny Brenda's for
grilled octopus and Legacy Duke of Ale. Rockin'! We drank our way
through three pitchers, then Cathy drove us back to the G-Lodge. The
second round of tapping had taken place, and the crowd had loosened up a
bit; we all got in. Perfect.
I got stuck into a pint of Brewer's Art Green
Peppercorn Triple. Whew, that's some taste! Lots of peppery flavor,
none of the heat I was dreading, and still some solid triple character.
I'd ratchet back on the peppercorns a bit, but this is a keeper; first
peppercorn beer I've had that I liked. I chased it with some Lancaster
Winter Warmer, that malty powerpack of a beer, and a smoooooth Duke
of Ale. The Duke was born to be casked.
What else ya got?! How about some Yards George
Jefferson, a blend of George Washington Porter and Thomas Jefferson
Ale? Well, it's pretty good, although the big porter tended to dominate.
Then it was Sly Fox Scotch Ale, a straight casked version of the
Robby Burns Scottish export ale. Smooth, well-conditioned, but by this
time, I must be honest, my palate was a bit blasted -- and so was
But I do remember my last beer: Weyerbacher Scotch
Ale. This is definitely one of my least favorite of the Weyerbacher
line, I was just never impressed with it. This, however, was excellent. Even though I was about a third plowed by now, this beer drew
me up short: malt to match the General Lafayette, layered and twisted,
real good and real drinkable!
That's about when I got ambushed. It was
midnight, and friends bought me shots of my two favorite whiskeys
carried at the Grey Lodge: Elijah Craig 12 Year Old and Baker's. Whoosh!
Delicious, but...that was it for me. Cathy led me to the van as I told
her how wonderful everything was: the cold, her hair, the van,
our children, the beer at the Grey Lodge, all the good friends I'd seen
at the event...you get the idea. It was a hard morning, but not lethal.
I'll be ready for the next Firkinteenth in August!