Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Chris Steltz (BeerGeekNation) | Interview With A Craft Beer Enthusiast



I got a little shoutout in this interview between two of Youtubes more popular beer reviewers. Shoutout is around 8 minutes in. Thanks to Chris and Chad for remembering my name! :)

Rehoboth Beach, DE - Is It the Nation's Summer Capitol?


update July 31, 2012
It has been over a year since I wrote this original blog, but I thought I would take the time to add a couple more watering holes.

A place that has become favorite since my original Rehoboth Beach Blog post is Henlopen City Oyster House. Some of us visited this place during our Delaware road trip.  Just two blocks from the ocean, this is one of the best places to eat and drink at in Rehoboth Beach.  The owner, Chris, is really cool and has an awesome beer program going on.  He bought a lot of empty casks and sends them to brewers around the country.  One time they had Hop Head Read on cask from Green Flash.  It was damn good. I have also had Stone Pale Ale with Chinook hops on cask their as well. The night we went there, he had Hop Rod Rye from Bear Republic.  It was really good.  That night, he also tapped a 2009 Double Bastard from Stone.  Holy smokers was that good!  Overall there are about 10 taps there and a really dedicated bottle list.  And a special bottle list of bombers and big beers you may want to share with friends.

The food at Henlopen City Oyster house is really good, and the oyster selection is outstanding.  The oysters are so fresh, you don't need the good cocktail sauce and mignonette they are served with, the oysters speak for themselves. I also love their fried clams.

Although Finbar's has been in Rehoboth for a few years, they have only had a craft beer program for four months.  Situated next door to Dogfish Head Brewery and Eats, it is a good place to grab a beer while waiting for a table at DFH if their bar is too crowded.  I have only been to Finbar's once for about a half hour, but I was pretty happy with their draft and bottle selection.

exterior
They had three different Stone offerings, including Ruination, which has been elusive for me.  Other breweries occupying their tap lines included Flying Dog, Victory, 21st Amendment, RJ Rockers, 16 Mile, Yards, and more.

I have not had any food at Finbar's, but I anticipate that will change over time as I dive further into their tap list.







 published 5/31/11
As you enter Rehoboth Beach Delaware, you will see two things after you drive around the lighthouse circle on Rehoboth Avenue, a sign in the middle of the street, "Welcome to the Nation's Summer Capitol (due to its proximity to Washington DC), and Dogfish Head Brew Pub. As you drive past DFH Brew Pub, there are more great beer places closer to the ocean. Arena's Deli a few blocks up and Zoggs, almost on the boardwalk.

I will start with Dogfish Head Brew Pub. This is a must-see destination for the serious beer enthusiast, nerd, idiot savant, or beer geek. Less than 20 miles away from their main brewery in Milton, DE. Aside from their year round brews, Chickory Stout, Shelter Pale, 60/90 Minute IPA etc....you can get their seasonal offerings there, such as Punkin, Aprihop and more when the season is right. Also they have a selection of vintage beers. When I was there over Memorial Day weekend, they had some 2009 vintages. Since I had already had the rare 120 Minute IPA from the tap, I forgot which ones they were offering. They also have brewpub-only beers where they may only have as much as one keg of a random experimental beer. View their websites for hours and directions.

Arena's Deli and Bar (pictured above) has an impressive sandwich list and and even more impressive beer list! While doing "research" for this piece, I had the shrimp nachos and washed them down with Smutty Nose Brown Dog and Red Seal Ale. Arena's is in an alley of shops between Rehoboth Avenue and Baltimore Avenue, so you can't see it from the road. When I was visiting, they had Dogfish Head Hell Hound on tap even after the DFH Brew Pub ran out. They have live music most nights there; I recommend visiting before the music starts if you like to have conversations with others about beer.

Zoggs is a personal favorite, but I would not call it a must-see for the beer enthusiast. Rum is their game, and they have an impressive bottle collection. The food is pretty good there (anything jerk is worth getting at Zoggs). The owners are really cool too. I give this shout out because I love that they have a tap from from four different Delaware breweries. Dogfish Head's Midas Touch, 16 Mile's new IPA, Evolution Summer beer, and Greenville's Twin Lakes Pale Ale. I love that they have a special place for local beer efforts.

Before the July Fourth Weekend, I will write a blog about the beer places of Route 1 in Rehoboth (as there is a lot of traffic, a beer store is a great place to stop and stretch the legs).

Monday, May 30, 2011

Westmalle Tripel Trappist Ale - Beer Review


There are only 7 trappist breweries in the world. Westmalle in Belgium is part of that exclusive club. It produces a tripel that is the classic example of the style. If you want to be a beer geek, then you have to drink this beer. Watch this episode to learn more and then head to your local bottle shop to do some "research"!

Thanks to the guys at Rivertown Brewing Company for helping to make this an outstanding episode!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Better Beer Authority - Behind The Scenes with Snobby Beer



Max Spang, Youtube User SnobbyBeer stopped by to help us review Dale's Pale Ale. He brought along his cameraman, Sherif, and shot this behind-the-scenes video about his experience with the Better Beer Authority.

I like this video a lot. Great shooting. Great editing. Nice narration. ...and it has beer in it. Cheers!

Thanks Max.

-James

Dale's Pale Ale - Beer Review


Dale's Pale Ale is one of the most famous craft beers in a can. Whatever your thoughts were on beer on a can you should leave them at the door. This is a full-flavored, hoppy offering with more IBUs than Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA. Take a six pack of this on your next camping trip. Spoiler Alert! - The guys loved it!

I wanted to share two comments that we received on Youtube:

khunopie:

The world's shortest poem about getting hammered on hoppy beer:

Adam had'em,

Dale's Pale Ale


ilovefastcars89:

This was originally called an IPA but they changed the name cuz it sounds better for the name

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Beer Oasis in Arlington, VA


Not too far from where I live in the Washington DC metro area is a small section of Washington Blvd called Westover. There are two beer meccas coexisting (one can say three places) across the street from each other.

The Lost Dog Cafe is an Arlington institution with a heart of gold and a beer list that can be found at the end of a rainbow. There are three stores now, but the original laid the foundation for a big following. Their specialties are sandwiches and a large beer selection. They also have a store front for take out orders and more importantly, bottle and six pack sales! I live close enough for them to deliver (they even deliver beer), but taking this option is doing yourself a disservice.

Across the street is The Westover Market which has, "The Great Wall Of Beer!" in which they boast over 1,000 beers. It really is a spectacle. If you didn't know it was there, you wouldn't give this place a second thought. They have a small beer garden outside with rotating taps.

My recommendation is to go to Lost Dog Cafe for dinner and sample some brews, then head across the street for beer shopping. Up the sidewalk from The Great Wall of Beer is Toby's Homemade Ice Cream. They make killer shakes.

One brief note, the bottled beer is slightly cheaper at Lost Dog. I have found the staff more helpful at Westover Market when selecting beers.

A couple store fronts down from Lost Dog Cafe is Stray Cat Cafe (same owners), similar menu, but they don't have a store. Their charitable contributions are partial to felines.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Rivertown Brewing Company - Interview with Brewers



Adventures Around CincinnatiJason Roeper and Randy Schiltz started the Rivertown Brewing Company in 2008. They were both homebrewers who were interested in opening a brewpub. They gave up the dream of owning a brewpub to focus on a production-only facility and that sparked a whole new phase in their lives. Rivertown has been growing much faster than they ever dreamed and with any luck it will be coming to a town near you. Get the inside scoop with this intimate one-on-two interview with the owners and brewers of one of Cincinnati, Ohio's newest brewing facilities.

Also, Jason and Randy helped us review Westmalle Tripel and Lindeman's Kriek. It was amazing having their extensive insight into these two well-known Belgian beers. Those two beer reviews will be posted soon after this one.

Finally, the boys of the Better Beer Authority and guest reviewer Chris Alltmont reviewed Rivertown Oatmeal Stout. Look for that beer review as well.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Oro de Calabaza - Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales

It's Friday night and I'm chilling with a bottle of Oro de Calabaza from Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales in Dexter, Michigan.  I've been saving this for a night where I could take my time and savor it.  It was given to me by Kyle Klaiber (Youtube user hophedbrewhaus) when he came to be a guest reviewer on the Better Beer Authority earlier this year.

Oro de Calabaza is a golden strong ale with Belgian-influences and 8 percent alcohol by volume.  Their website says to pour it into a tulip glass, snifter, or over-sized wine glass.  They stress that it should absolutely not be consumed from a pint glass and I agree completely.  You want a glass that's going to trap the aroma, because this is an aroma worth taking in.

The first whiffs of the beer reveal fruity esters from the wild yeast, like apple and pear.  You can smell a hint of the yeast, but it's not in your face like some Belgian offerings.

The beer has a hazy, yellow appearance and their is a constant, light carbonation bubbling through.  I wasn't too aggressive on the pour, but I ended up with a two finger head that leaves a slight soapy lace on the glass.

To me Oro is dry with a mildy sour or tart flavor.  The hops are buried a little, but stop by with a little, bitter hello on the finish.  The surprising part of this beer for me was how prevalent the alcohol felt.  It leaves a boozy aftertaste in my mouth.  Overall, it reminded me fermented apples or cider.

This is an interesting beer.  The light body makes it a great summertime drink, but the high ABV makes it a bad beer for thirst quenching.

This would probably be a good beer to give to someone who generally prefers wine to beer.  It has a lot of wine-like flavors and a slight, champagne feel to it.  Honestly, if someone had handed this to me in a wine glass without telling me it was a beer,  I think I might have mistaken it for wine.

I'd give it an 7 on the BBA scale.  It's a good beer.  It's a well-made beer.  But, it's also a situational beer.  It's a little more acidic than I usually like my beers to be.  You're not going to seek this out as a winter-warmer or to satisfy a hop craving.  You're going to have this to compliment a nice dinner with salad and  salmon.

Kyle also gave me a bottle of La Roja from Jolly Pumpkin.  I look forward to tasting that too.  Check back here soon for a written review of that beer as well.

Friday, May 13, 2011

State Line Liquors - It's What's on the Inside That Counts


My duty as the Better Beer Authority travel blogger is to map great beer places to stop while you are traveling.  This is why I am writing about a liquor store with a generic name in Elkton, Maryland across the border from Newark, Delaware (home of University of Delaware).

A 1/2 mile off Interstate 95 along the Washington/Baltimore-Philadelphia/New York corridor sits State Line Liquors at exit 109B. On the outside, it appears to be a typical state line discount liquor store. You would be a fool to judge this book by its cover. The beer selection is outstanding. The attached picture is only part of their Belgian offerings. Their selection of craft/micro-brews is equally impressive. Many regional labels can be found on their shelves in various types of containers: 12 & 16 oz bottles, bombers, six-packs, etc...Dogfish Head, 16 Mile, Victory, Heavy Seas, Evolution.....it goes on and on.

This is a far better rest stop than The Maryland House or Chesapeake House along I-95. They have a small bathroom, some snacks and it is near several chain restaurants.

Another cool thing at State Line is their random selection of pint glasses for sale. Their staff is very friendly and knowledgeable about their beer, wine, and scotch selections.

"How To Brew" Vs. "Radical Brewing"

How to Brew: Everything You Need To Know To Brew Beer Right The First Time
This is the cover for "How To Brew" by
John J. J Palmer.  Some people call it the
ultimate book for the beginning home
brewer.
So, I got my copy of How to Brew from Amazon.com today.  I've only read the first chapter so far, but I have to say that this is definitely the first book that I should have bought for brewing.

I had previously purchased Radical Brewing: Recipes, Tales and World-Altering Meditations in a Glass by Randy Mosher, but after reading about a third of it and brewing the first recipe I think this book should be reserved for more advanced brewers.  The recipes in this book tend to be a little more twisted and unique rather than classic examples of styles.  For example, instead of a traditional IPA he has an IRA - India Red Ale - and a Belgian-American IPA with Belgian yeast.

Also, Radical Brewing tends to gloss over certain details about the brewing process, like "How do I filter out all these hops that I have boiling in the wort?"

How to Brew, on the other hand, focuses on the what and why about each step in the brewing process.  It slowly works you up from extract brewing to all-grain brewing and then gives you recipes from various styles along with style guidelines.

Radical Brewing: Recipes, Tales and World-Altering Meditations in a Glass
Radical Brewing is aimed
at a more advanced brewer.
From my point of view, I'm interested in learning more about a traditional example of an IPA before I start twisting it.  Like mathematics, I want to learn about adding and subtracting before I move on to integral calculus.

They are both good books, but they serve different purposes.  Beginners and traditionalists should start with How to Brew.  Intermediate and advanced brewers or people looking for more exotic recipes should buy Radical Brewing.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Upcoming Episodes - Belgian Delights and Brewers

Michael Jackson's Great Beers of Belgium
I used this book to help me do the
research for the Westmalle Tripel
episode.  It has tons of great information
and personal stories from Michael
Jackson's visits to the breweries.
Gives you a different perspective on
monastic life!  Almost made me want
to be a Monk - almost.
We have the following episodes taped right now waiting to be edited...


  • Westmalle Tripel - Trappist Ale from the Westmalle Abbey featuring the guys from Rivertown Brewing Company
  • Lindeman's Kriek - Belgian Lambic also featuring the guys from Rivertown
  • Dale's Pale Ale - Oskar Blues Brewery - featuring Youtube user SnobbyBeer
  • Dark Horse Lager - Elevator Brewing Company - a local favorite from Columbus, Ohio with Joby Johnston as the guest host
  • Rivertown Oatmeal Stout - from Cincinnati, Ohio.  Features guest reviewer Chris Alltmont, brewer at Gordon Biersch Columbus
  • Interview with Jason Roeper and Randy Schiltz from Rivertown Brewing Company in Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Interview with Max Spang - Youtube user Snobby Beer
Let me know which episode you'd like to see first.

-James

Rivertown Brewing Company Visits the BBA!

Jason Roeper and Randy Schiltz, the owners and brewers for Rivertown Brewing Company, stopped by our studio on Monday.  It was a blast!  They brought several beers from their lineup for us to taste and boy were they delicious!

They helped us with two reviews, Westmalle Tripel and Lindemans Kriek and then sat for an interview about Rivertown Brewing Company.

Bavarian Lager: Beerhall Helles History, Brewing Techniques, Recipes (Classic Beer Style)
One of the beers that they
brought was a Helles Lager.
Jason said he was a "style-nazi"
and refused to dumb down the
recipe to please light beer
drinkers.  It was a full-flavored
malty delight of a beer that I
think would make a wonderful
gateway beer to the world of
craft beer.
It's always great to meet people who appreciate good beer and are very knowledgable about it and these guys are both.  I had done plenty of research about Kriek ahead of time, but I think I learned more in the 10 minutes that I talked to them about it, then I did in several hours of reading - of course I am a very slow reader.

Rivertown Brewing Company is a relatively new brewery near Cincinnati, Ohio, but they are growing quickly.  If you live in Ohio, don't forget to look for them at your local grocery store.  You can buy their beers on-line from thepartysource.com.

Previously, we also taped a review for their Oatmeal Stout featuring brewer Chris Alltmont from Gordon Biersch.  In all, we will have four Rivertown-related videos coming out over the next two months.  Tune in and find out more about Rivertown Brewing Company!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Heavy Seas Loose Cannon - Beer Review



Loose Cannons
Was this beer really named
after this zany flick with Gene
Hackman and Dan Akroyd?
This IPA is loaded with flavor! Is it too much? The Better Beer Authority hasn't always been kind to this style of beer. Has their heart softened for the hoppy goodness an IPA has to offer? Loose Cannon from Heavy Seas Beer (Clipper City Brewing Company) is a multi-dimensional beer with a strong aroma and bitter flavor that deserves to be tasted at least once. Check it out and let us know if it's pleasing to your sense!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Homebrew Batch 2 Update


Watching fermentation is
almost as exciting as
watching a time lapse
video being shot.
On Monday night I brewed my second batch of homebrew.  I did it using a recipe from Randy Mosher's book - Radical Brewing.  I was pretty excited about the recipe before I started, but as I went along I felt like there were a few key steps that were missing.  I was able to fill in the gaps using things I learned brewing my first batch with a kit.

I'm very excited about trying this beer.  My expectations are pretty high.  I think this is going to be about 2 or three times better than my first beer, which was drinkable, but definitely not ready for primetime.

Here are a few of the changes I made this time...

1) Better Yeast - I used liquid yeast instead of single packet of dry yeast.  Most sources lead me to believe that this is better.  However, it did cost $10.  It better be worth it. (Wyeast - London Ale)

You can see the space heater on the
right and the thermometer in the
center of the screen.
2) Right Fermentation Temperature.  I have the beer fermenting in a bedroom closet.  I added a thermometer and realized that the closet was too cold.  I put a little space heater in the closet - and then the magic started.  The beer started bubbling up and and CO2 action was very evident.  After seeing this, I'm starting to think that my first batch didn't really ferment at all.  I'm wondering if my first batch had any alcohol in it!  The first batch had a few bubbles, but it was about a tenth of what I am seeing now.

3) Whole Cone Hops (plugs) Over Pellets - I used Kent Goldings hops from England and used a much higher proportion of aroma hops at the end of the boil than I did the first time.  I am truly looking forward to smelling this beer!

Look at the bubbling!!!  It's so
exciting!!!  I did not have this much
action when I brewed my first beer.
I must have just been high off of life!
I want to switch to all-grain brewing, but after perusing Radical Brewing some more, I've decided that I need some new sources to learn more about the mashing process.  Does anyone have suggestions to learn about mashing?  My good buddy, Kyle Klaiber (aka Youtube user hophedbrewhaus), recommended howtobrew.com.  I decided to buy the book How to Brew: Everything You Need To Know To Brew Beer Right The First Time.

I also have another book on the way called The Complete Joy of Homebrewing Third Edition.

How to Brew: Everything You Need To Know To Brew Beer Right The First Time
Hopefully my new book
will come in the mail soon
so I can start dreaming
about how to sparge.
I think between these two books I should be ready to make the jump to all-grain brewing.

Kyle also offered to let me come help him brew some beer and I think that seems like a great way to learn how.  He has brewed over 150 batches of all-grain beer and is a BJCP beer judge - a great resource for learning more about the art and craft of brewing and enjoying great beers!

The saga continues...

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Negra Modelo - Cinco de Mayo Beer Review



Mexico Flag 12 x 18 inchNegra Modelo is one of the more famous dark beers imported to the U.S. from Mexico. It is brewed be Grupo Modelo which is like the Anheuser Busch of our southern neighbor. We decided that it would be a great beer to celebrate Cinco de Mayo with. It has more flavor than many of the pale lagers available in Mexico - BUT - will it have enough flavor to get our panel of reviewers excited. Also, we learn some fun facts about Cinco de Mayo!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

New York City: The Two Ends of Bleecker Street






On a trip to New York City this past weekend I hit an old stomping ground, the Peculiar Pub (over 100 years-old), and a newer place The Blind Tiger (since 1995), heralded by craft beer enthusiast from all over. They are both on Bleecker Street separated by 0.3 miles on one of New York City's best people watching streets.

First up, the Blind Tiger.  I liked it.  It was like a good craft beer, simple at first, yet complex the more you get into it. The layout is a basic bar with wood tones and chalkboard menus. They change their taps and bottles regularly, so this is the only logical way for them to have their menu. Keeping up with their Facebook page and web site before a trip here is a good idea as they update both with their current beer lists. I had a good Oyster Stout from Harpoon and Two Brother's Domaine Dupage which I had never heard of and really liked.

I would classify this bar as a must for any beer enthusiast or someone curious about trying new beers, as the staff was very helpful. The Tiger also has some cask beers on tap as well.

The Peculiar Pub is a different animal. This place can be loud, boisterous and full of students and tourists alike. But I like it a lot. It can also be quiet and relaxed. The low aluminum ceiling is what you would expect from a pub thats over 100 years old.  The beer menu is huge. There are beers from most countries you can think of with decent beer and at least half of the U.S. states. I was disappointed that their only beers from Oregon were five from Rogue. The Rogue Mocha Porter was very good though.
This is a great place to bring a friend who wants to try non-BMC beers.