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Victory Golden Monkey is one of my favorite local beers.  In my years I’ve drank probably more of this beer than most others.  Its a full flavored, interesting, and affordable belgian style tripel.  In my exploration of aging beers, this is one of the first beers I thought of, and I’ve been sitting on a number of bottles for awhile now.  last night I cracked open one to see how it was doing.  Per the stamp on the label, it was bottled in July of 2007, so not quite a year and a half old.

I’m sorry to say though, that it doesn’t seem to be aging well.  Perhaps my basement’s conditions are not ideal (my poorly vented dryer being the main culprit), but the flavor was a bit flat.  While flavorful and carbonated, it was a little cardboardy and muddy tasting.  Its a shame, but I’ll have to drink up my stock sooner rather than later.  Ha, bummer!  I suppose I will move them to a fridge to preserve what flavor is there.  I also have a batch from July of this year I’ll have to tap into.

On a different note, the Bike Coalition and Dock St Brewery are throwing a Biketoberfest party this Sunday.  Anyone going?  I know its a benefit and all, but I’m having a hard time with there being a $25 entrance fee AND a cash bar.

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Two beer notes for this morning.  First, Joe Sixpack, on reporting some results from the GABF, mentions what is perhaps the funniest beer name I’ve heard in awhile:  Dear Abbey Dubbel, from Legacy.

Second:  There is apparently a meadery in Birdsboro, PA!! (news courtesy of Beer Bits 2)  Road trip anyone?!?

What do these 2 things have in common?  Reading, PA.  See?  Don’t say I didn’t tell you.  Let’s all move there before we can’t afford to.

I’m late to the game on this, but the Bicycle Commuter Benefits Act has passed.  Not that I really know what that means.  But maybe it will prompt me to start riding into work more often, instead of taking the train.  $20 a month would cover the extra food I’d be eating to fuel my 30+ mile round trip commute.  But no, really, I’d like the extra incentive to ride more.  Even if it’s a result of the weird and busted up policital system.

I really need to think more about how I plan things.  And I need to take more pictures.  Because yesterday was awesome, and could have been awesomer.

I took the kids down to South Philly for the grand opening of the new location of Bella Vista Beer Distributor.  My first error in planning was thinking that it was at Ellsworth St, 6 blocks or so below the actual location at Fitzwater St.  And then deciding to park at 9th and Dickinson, so that the girls could have a nice walk.  Yea, that was a bad decision.  As was letting Maruke fall off my shoulders, just grabbing her ankle in time to avoid a serious head injury.  That was a bad idea.

The grand opening, however, was a good idea.  The bad planning part was that I didn’t plan on staying there all afternoon.  There was at least 10 or 15 breweries pouring, and it was totally free.  Marni and her 2 girls met us there, and eventually Lois rode on down also.  I had a chance to try a couple beers.  The clear winner and stand out was Voodoo Brewery’s Black Magick Stout.  Wow!  A 15-16% Russian Imperial Stout, aged in bourbon barrels.  Fresh at a year old, it was smooth, sweet and really boozy.  Rather profound, I must say.  I almost went in and bought a case (sans labels, as the brewer said it wasn’t even really supposed to be released yet).  But then I thought about the walk back to the car and decided against it.  Probably the best decision of the day.

I also wished that I had taken some pictures.  The new location is gigantic, though the abbey and bell tower was a bit of a let down.  I probably shouldn’t have actually thought that there would be a playground-like monastery with a 2 story clock tower; but I’m a sucker for my own inflated imagination.  I didn’t really even make a dent in checking out the entire store, so another trip is definitely in order.

Woot woot!  Earth Bread and Brewery is finally opening up!  (news via Jack Curtin)  Next Beer of the Bike anyone?  David, are you paying attention?

Since I’ve gotten many comments on the pumpkin beer post, I’ll post a little follow up.

Of course there are some “good” pumpkin beers out there.  Somewhere.  Of course people might like them because they are seasonal and interesting.  Of course if a brewer brewed a beer dry pie’d with 5 lbs of freshly baked pumpkin pie some people would drink it.  I mean, a brewer used whole pizzas in a brew, so why not pie.

My point is that pumpkin is relatively tasteless.  Its the spices in the beer that evoke the taste of pumpkins.  And autumn.  And Jack-o’-lanterns.  And candy corn.  And vomit.

And, the main point, and the most important one, is that I don’t like them.  So there.  This is my blog, and here, my opinions are the right ones.  So don’t try to change them.  Like Lois did with Southern Tier’s Creme Brulee Stout, which she made me try.  And I didn’t like, just like I decided that I wouldn’t.  And I certainly didn’t enjoy the pairing with cheesecake.  And I hated the subtle bitterness that was contrasted by the sweetness in the pie.  And I cringed as I slowly sipped and carefully finished the entire silky, full bodied bottle.  Nope, not me.  I don’t change my opinions.

Anyone want to buy me some pumpkin beers and try to convince me?

On Wednesday nights, I gather with some friends to drink beer and have a discussion loosely centered around spirituality.  It’s a “cell” group associated with Circle of Hope church.  Three weeks ago, we decided to try out the Foodery as a new location.  It actually wasn’t my idea, though I went along with it wholeheartedly.  As a result, I’ve been taking the opportunity to try some new beers each week.  (If you don’t know the Foodery, they have a ridiculously obscure and varied selection with over 875 beers)

This week I decided to try a pair of Belgian IPAs.  I started with Taras Boulba.  Brendan at the Memphis Taproom has been telling me to try this for some time, so when I saw it on the shelf I had to try it.  If only for the name (Thanks Carina, for turning me onto Gogol).  The second was a ‘t Smisje IPA+.  They are 2 very different beers, but with some very similar traits.  So lets compare and contrast.

Both beers poured a hazy gold, remarkably similar to a witbier. They both had a classic Belgian aroma, fruity and spicy. As soon as they hit the tongue though, it all changes. These beers are the driest things I’ve ever tasted. Its as if the brewers put nothing but bittering hops in, fermented it warm to get some yeasty phenols, and then let it sit till there was no residual sugar left at all. Actually, maybe that’s exactly what they did.

The Taras Boulba was lighter and very refreshing. I can see why Brendan said it was a perfect post bike ride beer. But please, not more than one! My puckering lips and parched palate can only take so much of this dry bitterness!  The t’ Smisje had more malt and body, and a head like lemon merangue pie.  At 10% ABV though, its definitely a sipper.

These pictures are terrible, I know.  They are from my phone, which should be able to take good pics, but doesn’t.  Neither these pics or these comments really do these beers justice.  They were wonderfully complex, and definitely deserve another tasting.  I’d love to see how the ‘t Smisje ages.

I post so often about beer that I often forget about the second part of this blog’s title.  So in the spirit of fairness, I offer you something in between a review and a rant.

I finally replaced my busted up old multi-tool several weeks ago with the Park Tools IB-3.  At first I loved it, as it has many great features: chain tool, tire lever, all the hex sizes I needed.  But it didn’t take me long to notice that it was lacking a phillips head screwdriver.  Now, granted, most bikes don’t use phillips screws, but they don’t use straight screws either, and its got one of those!  I need to put together some IKEA shelves dammit!

But the real clincher was last night.  Pun intended.  I decided to switch out my old and cracking (though still bomb proof) Armadillos for a lighter, more flexible pair of tires.  On both sets of tires, the multi tool’s tire lever was completely bending!  It was totally useless.  Come on Park, put a sturdier tire lever on there!  My fingers are killing me!

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