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I just saw on Meal Ticket that Yards is putting out a Barleywine.  This got me really excited.  I’ve haven’t talked much about it this year, but come winter, barleywine is my beer style of choice.  Well, I would take it in any season, but most of the breweries put them out this time of year.  And there is nothing like cuddling up on a bitter cold winter night with a snifter of aged barleywine and a hunk of stinky cheese.  So bring it on, winter!

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After a 2 year hiatus, I’m planning on brewing a batch of beer again.  Thanks to Tom’s prodding, I’ve finally made the effort to plan this out.  Notes and recipe are posted in Tom’s blog, so I won’t repeat here.

But the exciting thing is that during those 2 years, while I might not have been brewing, our beer has.  We have about 3 gallons of what was a Belgian IPA that has been sitting in a carboy with some sour yeast since November 2007.  We plan on bottling it this Sunday, in conjunction with our brew day.  I’m really excited to see how this beer tastes.

Updates, notes and maybe even pics to follow.  And if you feel like hanging out in Collegeville this Sunday with some sour beer and boiling kettles, just let me know.

Is there anyone as excited about this weather as I am?  This is beer drinking weather.

I had the rare pleasure of getting out last night to the Foodery for a man date.  It was my first chance to really rock my Beer by Bike wool jersey.  And first time for my cool weather gloves too.  Sure, it was only 4 blocks away, but give me a break!  I wanted to gear up and ride!

I enjoyed 2 wee heavies in light of the cooler weather, Duck Rabbit’s and Geary’s.  Duck Rabbit consistently impresses me, and this was no different.  Well balanced with a gentle bitterness.  The Geary’s was perhaps more traditional with a syrupy sweetness, cloying and boozy.  And I must say, I think I prefered it’s malt assault.  I don’t know much about the brewery or their beers, but they are from Portland, ME.  Yet another reason to go visit that town.  Put it on my list.

As of Friday night, it was looking like our ride might be rained out.  Even Saturday morning, I was all ready to get drenched en route to the Art Museum , expecting to wait in vain for anyone to show up.  But though the skies were ominous, the rain was holding off.  So starting with two friends who met at my house, we snowballed across town, meeting several people at Honey’s, and more on Spring Garden St.  By the time we left, we were 13 strong, ready to brave the Ben Franklin Bridge and the Camden streets.

Though the roads were bumpy, and there was one flat, the ride wasn’t really bad at all.  A leisurely pace, traffic played nice with us, and before we knew it we were there.  We were fortunate enough to have Chris Lapierre, the head brewer of the brewpub and cyclist, on the ride with us.  Many thanks to him for several pitchers of his beer, and for a special tour of the brewery.  Other than the tour, the highlight of the afternoon (for me at least) was when Chris shared a couple bottles of sour beers he was working on.  I love sour beers, and both of these were delicious and complex.

The ride back was more of the same, only hotter.  And there was no rain on either part of the ride.  So it ended up being a great day.  About a 30 mile ride, some great beer, and awesome views of the city.  Lets do it again sometime!

Last week I was hearing about Duck Rabbit beers making their way into PA.  I wasn’t able to get to any of the special events unveiling them, so instead I picked up a 6 pack at the Foodery.  I wasn’t sure whether the “dark beer specialists” were as good as they we reported to be, but after a glowing recommendation by the guys at the Foodery, I decided to give them a try.

I picked up a bottle of each.  They were all solid offerings.  I’m no expert on brown or amber ales, but I wouldn’t be afraid to claim that they were among the best examples I’ve had of the style.  And the RIS and barleywine were great too, though on the hoppy end of the spectrum, which isn’t my favorite end of the spectrum. And the porter, yes please.

But its the milk stout that really wowed me.  This style isn’t uncommon around here.  Lancaster Brewing is known for it.  But its always been forgettable for me, either chocolatey and cloying, or a watery version of a stout.  But the Duck Rabbit milk stout was spot on.  It had a silky mouthfeel, with a perfect balance of roasty bitterness and chocolate sweetness.

Only problem was: Lois liked it too.  So I only got a few sips in.  (Milk stouts used to be given to pregnant and nursing mothers, right?).  So to confirm my initial impression, I went back and did a little milk stout tasting: Duck Rabbit vs. Lancaster vs. Left Hand.   All were good, the Left Hand on the bitter end, Lancaster on the watery end.  But Duck Rabbit sat squarely in the middle, and on easily on top of the competition.

I’m glad to have this brewery in PA.  Its nice to see a brewery focused on a particular style, one that isn’t belgian or hoppian.

I have a personal tradition.  In the dead of winter, on the coldest night, I bundle up and head out to a local bar for some beers.  I’ve never thought of it as a “tradition,” but looking back, its something that I’ve consistently done for several years, so I’ll name it as such.

So last night, in 15 degree weather, I braved largely unplowed icy roads on a charming 1/2 mile ride to Johnny Brenda’s.  I thought I was going to see some friends bands play and I was grateful for a fun night out.

Funny thing, though.  I paid the $10 cover, found a friend at the bar, and cozied up with a glass of Legacy Bruin (delicious, though maybe not as hearty as such a night called for).  I realized that other than Alex at the bar, whom my meeting was a happy accident, I didn’t recognize another face in the place.  I didn’t even see my friends who were supposed to be playing.  I finally got suspicious enough and checked out the band list for the night, and realized that I was totally at the wrong show.  Oops!  For the record, don’t trust Facebook invites, they often have the wrong dates.

So I took my Weyerbacher Fireside ale down to the main bar and spent the rest of the night there.  Despite the show confusion, it was a great night.  The tap list at Johnny Brendas usually bores me, but there was quite a selection last night.  Besides the Fireside ale, which was sublime, the Dock St Imperial Stout was impressive.  I don’t remember the Sly Fox Gang Aft Agley being so smokey, but I loved it.  Overall the beer selection was perfect for a frigid and ill planned evening.

Prompted by a comment to a comment last week over at Bike Hugger, and after last week’s night of indulging in some high alcohol beers, I wanted to comment the idea of session beers.  I generally am drawn to the heavier beers, high ABV, full bodied, big flavors.  But in trying to expand my palate, I’ve been really trying to spend some time appreciating lighter beers.

Thankfully, Philadelphia beer culture is full of session beers.  Without getting into a well structured list, there are decent session beers from many of our local favorites, Earth, PBC, Victory, Sly Fox; as well as a great selection of easy drinkers at most bars in the area.  My recent Troegs binge, a visit to Earth, frequent trips to the Memphis Taproom;  Considering Bike Hugger’s complaint about the lack of low ABV beers in LA, I’m (we’re) fortunate to have such a great selection in the region.

Which leads me to cask ales, perhaps my favorite form of sessionable beer.  There is nothing like a lightly carbonated, cellar temp ale after a good bike ride.  Even if the ride is only from home to the bar!  For a daily update of what’s on cask around town, check out http://caskalekev.blogspot.com/.  I’ve been happy to see more than just IPAs on that list recently, and I’m been drooling over the idea of some darker stuff on cask.  Chilly bike ride, early sunset, pint of cask poured porter – sounds like autumn to me!

Last night I had nice little tasting session with my lightweight but knowledge-heavy friend Johnny.  He brought over some bottles of Mad Elf (we postponed the case splitting adventure).  I was glad to agree with him (and Ethan) on the tastiness of the Mad Elf.  I generally idolize barleywines as my winter season style, and pugilize spiced winter beers.  (See previous posts for my thoughts on pumpkin beers to get an idea of my feelings for cinnaminy nutmegy beers).  But I think the Mad Elf represents a whole new direction for winter beers.  A direction that I’m glad to head in.   Pairings?  Bring on the fruit cake!

Afterwards, I brought up 2 bottles of Golden Monkey, one from eariler this year, and one that was bottled in July of 2007.  Side by side tastings confirmed what I suspected before:  After about a year this beer starts to decline.  The newer one (maybe 6 months old) however was at its prime.  The spices (different ones! don’t cry “hypocrite!”) and the alcohol had mellowed out, while the body retained its fullness and flavor.

As part of an internet sharing/payment arrangment with my brother-in-law/next-door-neighbor, I’ve found myself in possession of 2 cases of Troegs beer, one of Dead Reckoning Porter and one of Dreamweaver. 

I have always more or less dismissed Troegs, for no particular reason.  Maybe it’s the allure of heavier local offerings from Victory or Weyerbacher.  Or maybe its the ease and availability of Phila Brewing Co’s beers.  However, at aforementioned brother-in-law/next-door-neighbor’s wedding a month or so ago I had a Dead Reckoning Porter, and it blew my mind.  It was largely a circumstantial experience.  After a long weddingful weekend, I severely needed a beer.  I think I gulped down two of them, right after each other.  (Don’t worry, that’s all I drank that night.)  But I had fallen in love, and was quite grateful to receive an entire case of it.

Since them, a glass of porter has been an almost nightly event.  Some of the starry eyed romance is gone, and sometimes its a bit too heavy, smokey, or bitter.  But on these cooler fall nights, it really is quite appropriate.

On nights where I need sometime less intense, I’ve been digging the Dreamweaver.  I generally dismiss American wheat beers (again, for no particular reason), so its been nice reacquainting myself.  I can’t really tell where this falls on the German Hefe/Belgian Wit spectrum, but honestly, I’m not usually paying attention, simply enjoying.

All this to say, I’m sold on Troegs now.  I’m sorry that I dismissed you.  To make it up to you, I’m going to be splitting a case of Mad Elf with a friend.  Another Troegs creation that I have mindlessly ignored for the past several years.  Hopefully I can enjoy some of it this winter, and save the rest to cellar for winters to come.

PS – for the record, I have had Troegenator recently, and often.  So I haven’t completely ignored this brewery.

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.

Twitter

  • Beer by Bike ride is happening this Sat! Meet at 2nd and Poplar at 10:45 for a ride out to the Hop Angel Brauhaus for their holiday party 7 years ago
  • Hey, remember how we used to ride bikes and drink beer? Want to do it again? How about Dec 18th for a little holiday ride? 7 years ago
  • The Tweed Ride is this Sat!!: http://on.fb.me/bIY8u0 7 years ago
  • Any Philly beerbybike'rs want to meet up with Evan from @beercycling tonight at Monk's? 8 years ago
  • We are planning our official BeerbyBike Homebrew camping extravaganza for next weekend. If you want in, please let me know ASAP 8 years ago
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