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I’ve noticed some new beer and drinking related shows on TV in my late night channel surfing.

I’ve heard of “Three Sheets” from when it was on Mojo.  But as I never got that channel, I never really watched it.  Now that its on FLN, I’ve caught at least one episode.  I like the format.  And even though my watching of travel shows is permanently ruined from seeing behind the curtain of the Samantha Brown show, and even though it certainly glazes over much, I still enjoy this show.  I don’t expect it to ever be a comprehensive guide to drinking in other cultures, but its a fun watch.  Knowing a bit about brewing and distilling helps, as he/they tend to dumb things down a bit.

The other show that I found is the Thirsty Traveler.  This one I know much less about, other than recognizing the host from Iron Chef.  It seems like a similar format, and the one episode I saw was entertaining.

I hope you don’t watch as much TV as me, but at least now there are some interesting things to watch.


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!

Last night I took an after dinner bike ride up to Mt Airy to meet some old friends at McMenamin’s.  I had heard good things about this place and wanted to check it out.

The ride itself was harder than I expected.  I always forget how hilly Mt Airy is.  I fared better than Micah however, who joined me on his brakeless track bike.  12 miles in a little over an hour?  That’s not much to brag about.  But a beautiful ride nevertheless.

The bar is a great little spot on a happening little block.  I loved seeing such a wide variety of clientele, and it was packed for a Tuesday!  A remarkably different scene than I’m used to.  It brought back fond memories of the Glenside Pub (where I proposed to my wife, btw).

The beer list was a little slimmer than I had expected, but they still had some interesting options.  I started off with a Rogue Tripel, which I can’t seem to find much info about online.  There were several poorly marked items on the list, including “Maple Nut Brown.”  Our server thought that maybe the brewery was something like “Bushwackers,” which didn’t sound familar to me.  I shouldn’t have, but I ordered one anyway.  Terrible.  Maybe they had the lines crossed with the Rodenbach or something, but it tasted far too tart to be intentional.  Maybe it was dirty lines, or contamination, I don’t know, but it was really far from mapley or nutty.  I washed it down with a couple pints of Beamish.  They actually had a hand pump too, but the ESA cask had just kicked, sadly.

It seemed to be understaffed, so unfortunately the service was particularly poor this particular night.  Thankfully, after waiting for an hour for our check, my gracious friends offered me and my bike a ride home.

I hate to say bad things about a place, but the mediocre beer list, bad beer, and slow service is enough for me to not go back anytime soon.  At least its not worthy of a twilight 12 hilly mile ride on its own.

When Earth Bread and Brewery (finally) opens up, maybe I’ll give it another try.

Friday night, Lois and I had the unexpected pleasure of a kid free date night. We decided to eat at the South Phila Taproom. I’ve had a thing for this bar for awhile, but the recent expansion and kitchen turnover had made us particularly anxious to check it out again. Most importantly because Lois’ brother is part of the kitchen staff that moved over from Bridgewater’s in 30th St station (which I was only moderately fond of the one time we ate there).

So after dropping the girls off at Grammy’s, we raced straight to south Philly. We did drive, contrary to my normal and desired method of transportation. Parking was a breeze, and I must say, there was a bounce to our steps as we made our way around the corner to the bar. We were met on the street by our old friend and partner in crime Adam, who works as a bar back there, and quickly made our way to a 2 seater next to the kitchen.

Had I read the review in PW closer, I would have realized that Lois’ brother Zach is the Sous Chef there, and is “kinda a big deal.” He introduced us to the chef who was more than friendly and excited to meet us. It was the night after the Bell’s event there, so there was still ample Bell’s on draft. I had a Lager of the Lake, while Lois had a Two Hearted IPA. I was in the mood for some lighter session beers, and the Bell’s did the trick.

The first thing that was brought out to us, courtesy of Zach, and without even asking, was the Mr Mancuso’s cheese plate. Zach is well aware of my cheese fetish, so this was much appreciated. It was a lovely plate of 4 kinds of cheese, and various accoutrements, including figs, dried apricots, balsamic syrup, and strawberries. The cheeses were “plain old,” as I suggested to the chef, in a regrettable faux pax, however they were spectacular. I have a tendency to treat cheese like extreme beer, and seek out the wildest, funkiest, bluest there is. But the simple sharp provolone Mr Mancuso provided was perhaps one of the best cheeses I’ve ever had. Perfectly balanced between sweet and sharp, I would even go as far to say that the texture was sexual in its chewiness. Lois preferred the Gorgonzola with balsamic and strawberries. This single plate would have made a completely perfect meal on its own. But there was more to come.

Rapid fire, we were brought a bowl of Poutine and a Frito Lay chili bowl. I’m a sucker for cheese fries, so I dug right into the Poutine, a Canadian version of cheese fries with mushroom gravy and cheese curd. Both Zach and the chef scorned this dish, but dang. Dang! The Frito Lay chili dish, Zach informed us, is a southern meal that construction workers eat for lunch: a bag of Fritos filled with chili. I don’t know how much truth there is to the origin, but our vegetarian version was hearty and delicious. Of all the uneaten food (keep reading, there was lots), this is the only thing that Lois insisting on boxing up to take home.

At this point, we are throughly filled. I had a Bells Amber, which I’ve not had on draft before, and Lois jumped right into a Third Coast Old Ale, one of my favorite beers. We nibbled at the mounds of unfinished appetizers as we discussed how we were going to manage the main courses that we probably shouldn’t have ordered. Lois ordered the fish and chips, and I got the scallop sliders. The scallops were delicious, coated with bourbon bar-b-q sauce, and served on buttery biscuits so light that they almost fought against the scallops in a battle of softness. As Lois could barely manage more than a bite of her fish and chips, I was charged with the difficult task of helping her eat them. They were a bit greasy, but forgivably so, as the IPA batter was beyond amazing. The three fried shrimps that accompanied the cod were perhaps the best seafood I’ve eating since I’ve started eating fish. And the cod was so tender, wonderfully balanced by the crisp coating of batter. I continued to enjoy long after my stomach begged me to stop.

As I sipped a newly tapped and cloudy glass of Bells Sparkling Ale, Zach insisted we try his own dessert creation: a strawberry mint trifle. He explained the triple layered parfait like dessert in detail, which we blatantly ignored, worried more about the possibility of actually being able to eat it. (It consisted of strawberry compote, chantilly cream, and pound cake coated with Rumple Minz). It was delicious. And it was sadistic of Zach to serve this, as we were both incapable of having more than a couple spoonfuls of it.

In the end, I believe that this meal was one of my favorite meals ever. I’m proud and excited to see more of what Zach comes up with working there, and looking forward to tasting more of it.

Giro Xen

After cracking my last helmet in the process of obtaining a concussion, I spent all winter agonizing over what to replace it with. I finally picked one up yesterday at the Trophy Bike Garage. I’m kinda particular about the aesthetics of helmets, in an irrationally personal way. So after months of browsing the internet, and after months of changing my mind, I ended up getting a 2008 Giro Xen in matte sepia. (In case you’re wondering, close runners up were the Specialized Air-8, and the Catlike Whisper, if it were possible to find one in the US).

Giro Xen

One of the reasons that I thought to do this, is that I had a hard time finding pictures of this helmet online. Call me vain, but I was hesitant to drop over $100 on a helmet that I wasn’t sure if I’d like. So, hopefully this will help someone else out. Its hard to describe the color, and its definitely not coming across well via digital pictures. Its somewhere between maroon and brown, with almost a silvery shimmer. Maybe mauve-like? I also took the visor off immediately. I couldn’t find any pictures without the visor before I purchased it. Does anyone actually use those things??

Giro Xen

I was fortunate enough to be able to get out for a 20 mile ride the day after picking the helmet up. Without getting too technical, the helmet feels and fits great. It was chilly this morning, so I don’t know about the venting/cooling yet. And I really like the look of it, a nice midpoint between lasery road helmets, hard-angled mountain bike helmets, and globe-like skate helmets.

Giro Xen

The thing I don’t like (yet, at least) is the retention system. Compared to my previous helmet, it seems a little difficult to adjust on the fly. And the front view is kinda mushroomy, but that seems to be hard to avoid, particularly with a big head like mine. Neither is a deal killer. So overall, I’m excited to have new helmet.

Giro Xen


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