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Dining – Pittsburgh – Over The Bar Bicycle Cafe North Park Boathouse

Icon Written by admin on February 6, 2014 – 11:31 am

Over The Bar Bicycle Cafe North Park Boathouse By: Rick Perrotta II

“We use fresh jalapenos; I leave the seeds in for the extra spice,” says North Park Boathouse chef Eric Strafalace. Mr. Strafalace is speaking of one of their signature appetizers, and our first of the night, the Old Firehouse Dip ($7.99). He’s right – the dip is much spicier than typical restaurant fare. Luckily, it’s also wonderfully balanced, the jalapenos being countered by other fresh ingredients such as diced tomatoes, green onions, crispy bacon, cream cheese and shredded cheddar. On the menu, OTB rightly boasts of working with PA farmers to provide fresh, local produce. The dip is also served with fresh tortillas; the difference between the fresh and the store-bought is evident.

The Old Firehouse Dip was just one of many dishes my party and I were treated to the night we visited Over The Bar Bicycle Cafe’s North Park Boathouse location. Mr. Strafalace describes more food as it is brought out. “The black bean cakes,” known as the 650 Bean Cakes ($7.99), “are thickened with corn starch rather than flour, adding corn starch instead of flour doesn’t interfere with the taste.” The cakes are tremendous, absolutely delicious served with sides of sour cream, guacamole, and homemade pineapple salsa, good enough to be its own appetizer. Then there’s the Spoke Junkie ($7.99), “made from freshly sliced zucchini, rolled up with 3 kinds of cheese, then hand battered.” The best zucchini we have ever sampled!

The attention to detail, creativity, and quality ingredients are just a few things that set Over The Bar Bicycle Cafe apart from other restaurants. There is also the friendly staff, led by manager Jerri Lauffer, and of course the setting and atmosphere. One can see the lake while dining and when the weather is nice, patrons can sit on the dock and more intimately appreciate the beautiful landscape. Owner Mike Kotyk and his partners have done North Park a true service by spending the last 3 years and half a million dollars renovating the Boathouse, which sat mostly undisturbed for some 30 years. Not only that, Mr. Kotyk has signed a five year lease with Allegheny County meaning taxpayers will be getting a new source of revenue and an absolutely fabulous place to dine, drink or simply relax.

Regardless of where one is seated, you are certain to enjoy your visit. Much like OTB’s original South Side location, the Boathouse has an extensive craft beer selection. Impressive brews such as the Southern Tier Krampus and the Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA are on tap plus over forty more beers can be ordered by the bottle including several from Oskar Blues Brewery and Pennsylvania’s own Troegs Brewing Company. My choice, the Krampus, was delivered in a chalice. When ordering by the bottle, glasses were brought without having to ask, this truly added to the overall experience of OTB. They have also added another nice touch by including the Beer Advocate score of each beer on the menu.

Adding to the overall experience, many of the dishes are named after local landmarks or Pennsylvania luminaries, such as the North Ridge Nachos ($7.99) and the Rachel Carson Wrap ($9.99). Others are named for biking references, as Mr. Kotyk is a well-known biking enthusiast, such as the Top Gear Tenders ($8.99) and the Dirt Rag Delight burger ($9.99). The Dirt Rag Delight is a must try. This juicy hamburger is served with American cheese, thick sliced dill pickles, and Wholey’s homemade peanut butter. Yes, peanut butter. This sandwich was inspired by the biker’s need for protein. The peanut butter adds a touch of sweetness while blending surprisingly well with the flavor the burger. You seriously “must try” this burger!

Mr. Strafalace says OTB also offers many selections for their “vegetarian and vegan friends,” which are marked with a ‘V.’ Any of the burgers can be made with a black bean burger instead of ground beef. The Iron City Bites ($7.99) are vegetarian wings made from seitan, which is made from wheat but has the texture of meat. In 2011 and 2012, OTB won an award for “Best Vegetarian Soup” at the South Side soup contest. In addition, we were fortunate enough to try the B.E.L.L.A. tacos (Biking Enthusiastic Ladies Loving Adventures, $9.99) which are stuffed with grilled balsamic marinated Portabella mushrooms, fresh avocado, Asian slaw, and homemade pico de gallo. Again, the jalapenos in the pico de gallo are evident but very nicely offset by the avocado. There are several more options, more than can be listed succinctly.

Toward the end, we were told they have one more dish they would like us to try and they bring out the Granny Gear Salad ($11.99). The Granny Gear Salad features char-grilled chicken over mixed greens, topped with Swiss, roasted red peppers (prepared in-house, of course), julienned apples, and craisins. This terrific salad was served with an outstanding homemade poppy seed dressing, though they were kind enough to offer us other options as well including their fantastic balsamic vinaigrette.

OTB Bicycle Café North Park Boathouse is located on Pierce Mill Run Road in McCandless. Between the service, the music, the setting, the beer, and the level of attention given to serving a quality product with a unique twist, we had a great time with seriously amazing food. They are open 7 days a week – Monday-Wednesday: 11AM-10PM, Thursday-Saturday: 11AM-11PM and Sunday: 11AM-9PM – For more information, including the menu and contact information, please visit Or for directions you can call 724.940.5000

OTB (Over The Bar) Bicycle Cafe on Urbanspoon

BZ’s Bar and Grill – Pittsburgh

Icon Written by admin on February 5, 2013 – 7:18 pm

BZ’s Bar & Grill By: Suz Pisano

BZ’s Bar & Grill at 140 Federal Street sits right across from PNC Park and has been on my radar ever since they began renovations months ago. They’re finally open, and Nightwire gets to be the first to tell you all about it. Brandon Herriott is one of the owners. He’s the ‘B’ and his partners Bob & Laura Zoravkovski are the ‘Z’ and the investors in this new hot spot offering great food, amazing drinks, craft beers, happy hour, lunch specials and much, much more. They came together from an act of kindness, Brandon was asked by Bob to look over a proposal for a pending restaurant/bar acquisition, which he graciously accepted and wouldn’t take anything for his expertise and advice on this project. This simple act of kindness eventually put Bob and Brandon together as business partners and they landed on a concept and a location bringing together many years of working in the industry as well as the capital to invest in a dream. This new bar and grill promises to be a big hit year-round with interesting takes on comfort foods and favorites using only the best ingredients.

Let’s start with Small Plates. We tried the Hummus Trio ($8) served with Gremolata, Hot Cherry Pepper Relish and Bruschetta Mix. I can’t tell you which one I preferred, but there is plenty to share, they’re extremely fresh and made in house daily. The “to die for” choice in my book is the Duck Sliders ($9). I have to admit that I spied it on the website and was hoping to sink my teeth into one of these, duck confit, blackberry preserves and herbed cream cheese on the perfect little bun. Oh my! I grew up eating jelly and cream cheese sandwiches; I think it’s an Eastern European thing or maybe a Pittsburgh thing like “jumbo.” I love, love, loved these duck sliders. Also available are Beef ($8) made with brisket or Crab ($11). The Small Plates choices are plentiful with everything from wings, tacos, truffle fries, fried mozzarella to bruschetta and a goat cheese crostini. Salads are offered in Greek, Caesar, Capresanella- fresh tomato, mozzarella & basil. Additions include Portobella, chicken, shrimp, crab cakes, lamb or brisket. There are so many options at BZ’s that you’re gonna want to take your time while perusing the extensive menu.

Another menu item that caught my eye was the Shrimp Po’ Boy ($12), delicately fried shrimp, pickled cucumber, mayo, lettuce and tomato. Yum. And yum for the next day when I ate the leftovers! The pickled cucumber is delicious; don’t take it off! We also tried the Big Texan ($11), which is Brisket, pickled onions, hot Chinese mustard, cheddar cheese and BBQ Sauce. Quite a mouthful of flavor but the brisket is melt-in-your-mouth, cooked for hours and hours and hours. Not a sandwich for the meek. I have to mention the Gyro ($11) made with real lamb, marinated and cooked to perfection, not lamb lunchmeat. I can’t wait to try it.

Burgers are also served up at BZ’s. We were pleasantly surprised to try the Turducken Burger ($12) a deconstructed version of the mythical Thanksgiving bird. BZ makes their burger with turkey dark meat (yum) layered with duck confit and topped with a fried egg, arugula and sage aioli. Turkey, duck & chicken all represented in this delectable burger version. The turkey was so flavorful, perfectly seasoned, juicy and moist. You know I’m never a straight up turkey burger fan but I would highly recommend this burger, I’m even going to order it again on my next visit. It’s that delicious! The fries that accompany the sandwiches and burgers are lightly dusted with a secret house made seasoning, you’ll definitely eat every one. A nice enhancement to the thin cut fries- my favorite kind.

BZ’s also makes pizzas. They offer everything from the classic to the Racy Swine ($12) with house made chorizo, bacon, pepperoni, mozzarella, red chili flakes and marinara sauce. Absolutely delicious. The 4- cut pizza is a hearty meal or enough to share along with a salad. Other offerings include the Fungi, Spanakopizza, spinach and feta delight, Pear & Blue with walnuts and truffle oil, or the Bedded Duck- duck confit with goat cheese, olive oil, garlic and arugula. I mentioned that one last because it’s another thing I can’t wait to try. Pizza crust is house made and the perfect consistency for the toppings. I know good dough! I adore homemade pizza dough and have tried several recipes in my home kitchen.

While sitting and chatting with Brandon, he suggested that we should try another specialty of the house: Mac and Cheese. We were presented with a Mexican Mac and Cheese ($15) with chorizo, goat cheese in their four-cheese classic mac, which we all loved. The Lo Country ($16) version adds pimento cheese and fried chicken! There’s even a Crabby ($16) mac and cheese!

If you’re a BLT fan, BZ’s just might be your spot. They offer a Classic ($8), Black N Bleu ($9) bleu cheese gremolata dressing, or a BLT du Jour featuring a bacon of the month. Yes, bacon. For $3 they will add 3 ounces of bacon to anything on the menu. Think of the possibilities!

This is a perfect opportunity to mention the Maple Bacon-infused Old Fashioned that we sampled. It was just one of the many signature drinks brought to BZ’s by Bar Manager Matt Nalepka. He’s a transplant, too, and also an award-winning martini maker! Pittsburgh will be happy to have him serving up some very special cocktails. I think having a cocktail is like having a little celebration, something you might never have at home. Cocktails are meant to be savored. At BZ’s, homemade syrups and stellar ingredients had us passing drinks around the table all evening. The Elderflower Fizz was heavenly, presented in the perfect glass with a lavender garnish. The Berry Sophisticate was so exotic, the blueberry garnish made me feel like I was in paradise. The Thai Coconut Tea was a nice twist on a favorite but my two favorites were the Key Lime Pie (order one!) and the Dirty Martini served with a pickle and spicy pickle juice. Wow! I snagged that drink immediately and claimed it as mine. I’m so looking forward to returning to BZ’s to try something new!

Now for the ever-changing craft beer selections. If you can’t land on one beer selection, try a flight. (Flights are the perfect complement to any mac and cheese choice, especially in these cold winter months. I think I’ll have my next mac and cheese at the bar!)

Entrees at BZ’s include Pepperonata ($15,) a hot Italian sausage served with onions, sweet peppers, and marinara sauce with Gemelli; Mushroom Ravioli ($15); Scampi Pasta ($15) (adding chopped bacon to that is an extra $3); and Dry Aged Ribeye ($26), which I cannot wait to try! A Fish Dish is offered in limited quantities as is a daily special.

We shared the Chicken Marsala ($14), and we all loved the roasted vegetables, which included Brussels sprouts, carrots and potatoes as the side. The Marsala was rich and delicious, and the chicken cooked to perfection. What a beautiful meal. And don’t forget to save room for their homemade desserts, S’Mores Cheesecake ($6), totally to die for, Chocolate Lava Cake ($6) and Dessert Du Jour. Very close attention is paid to presentation, and service at BZ’s promises to be great. Brandon’s experience in absolutely every aspect of the restaurant industry is evident in the professionalism and level of pride offered at this brand new establishment.

Weekly specials at BZ’s include:
Monday: Red Blooded Mondays–$6 BLTs or Burgers with Fries, 20% off Big Bottled Beers and a featured Bloody Mary
Tuesday: Backyard BBQ Tuesdays–House made BBQ platter for $10, includes 2 Sides and canned beer specials

Wednesday: Hump Day Happy Hour–specials from 5:00pm-9:00pm. Karaoke/DJ/Name That Tune and DJ Bromeo starting at 7:00pm
Thursday: Ladies Night–Special $5 Martini menu from 5:00pm-close, ½ off select apps. DJ Bromeo at 7:00pm. Monthly drawing giveaway.
Friday: Early Recess –Happy Hour specials from 3:00pm-7:00pm.
Saturdays start at 9:00pm–$5 Bombs and Beat The Clock starting at 10:00pm. $1 Domestic drafts
that go up a buck every hour till regular price. The establishment with the most employees present (must have at least 5 to qualify) will receive a free $100 tab.

Sunday: SIN Sundays–Service Industry Night
Happy Hour Specials: Monday – Friday (normal hours are 5pm-7pm) $3 draft beers, $6 Specialty Drinks and Martinis, ½ off Wine, and ½ off selected appetizers.

BZ’s Bar and Grill is located on the North Shore at 140 Federal Street next to PNC Park. 412-323-BZBG(2924). They are opened daily Monday through Sunday 11am-2am. Check them out on the web at

BZ's Bar and Grill on Urbanspoon

Dining – Saga Hibachi Steakhouse & Sushi Bar – Robinson – Pittsburgh

Icon Written by admin on October 27, 2010 – 9:26 am

Saga Hibachi Steakhouse & Sushi Bar

By: Nightwire

Saga is the latest addition in Settler’s Ridge Center, located in Robinson Township. We found SAGA’s atmosphere to be extremely inviting, tastefully decorated with silk foliage and a beautiful waterfall in the entry. In addition to a full bar and beautiful hibachi room, SAGA features a sushi bar draped in vines and wrapped in  enchanting hazy blue lighting spanning the length of the ceiling, with large, private booths. They also offer outdoor seating, ideal for a warm fall evening.  Upon entering, we were promptly greeted by the manager Sun, and Jason, one of Saga’s partners.  Saga was comfortably busy for Thursday early evening.  Since opening on April 8th, Saga is already seeing repeat business and building a solid customer base.  We cannot wait to tell you why!

We start at the bar.  Happy Hour at SAGA is from 4:30pm – 6:30pm, with two-dollar domestics and two-dollars off well drinks. SAGA offers a full bar. Bar Manager Gina started us with a Pineapple Passion ($6.00). This is a creamy coconut rum concoction with pineapple juice. Gina likens it to a “pineapple cotton candy”, not too sweet, not too fruity – a perfect blend of flavors. If you are planning to take a date or want to cozy up to someone special during this holiday season, we recommend the SAGA Volcano ($14.00).  This drink is large enough to share with two straws; a definite “Must try!”  The Volcano is a combination of gin, rum, and vodka with tangy orange and pineapple juices, served flaming!  The also offer an award wining “living & breathing” wine list that compliments both their lunch and dinner selections.

Gina definitely knows her way around the bar. She has created a whole menu to choose from of original martinis.  She quickly reminds us that Saga has plenty of non-alcoholic options and fun specialty drinks for children. We tried a Japanese orange soda – highly carbonated and tastily tart in a colorful glass bottle. SAGA offers Edamame, salted soybeans (in pods) a healthy alternative to bar nuts. They were delicious; we could not stop eating them.

Next came our appetizer, an artful array of sashimi ($5-$7.00 a la carte) nestled in flowers and bamboo, the presentation was spectacular. There was fresh cut Ahi tuna, salmon, flounder, snapper, and yellow fin. Definitely tender, delicious, top quality and the freshness of an ocean catch.

Next, we were off to the hibachi grill. The room is spacious yet extremely comfortable and personal.  The servers quickly served us a bowl of soup, a clear chicken and beef based broth garnished with mushroom and shallots very tasty, and definitely not salty.  Next, the salads served with Saga’s homemade house dressing, very creamy with a hint of apples and oranges, one of the best Japanese dressings we have ever tried.

Hibachi Chef Victor emerged from the kitchen and introduces himself. With ten years of experience, he is engaging and poised at the grill. We watch mesmerized as he turns stir-fry into a fascinating experience. He quickly ignites the grill and flames erupt like an inferno. He balances and cracks an egg with just a spatula, quickly slices an onion into a flaming and steaming volcano. A minute into this charismatic show, he quickly proceeds to make a heart-shaped rice mound sizzling on the grill, which he brings to life with a throb from the spatula. Next, we watch as the vegetables cook, with precision and care.  Then he proudly presents us with a glimpse of what’s going onto the grill.  He turns this meat and seafood platter into mouth watering delicacies all seasoned to perfection and not overly saturated with soy sauce.  Saga only uses low sodium soy sauce, which truly enhances and lets the flavors blend rather than over powered with soy sauce.  The filet was melt in your mouth tender, cooked to perfection.  The chicken was moist and extremely flavorful as was the shrimp and scallops, delicious!  The lobster tails were perfectly grilled and succulent – no dipping butter required, you will want to savor every bite. SAGA serves very generous portions and their prices are extremely moderate for the quality and quantity of food they serve. Entrees range from $15- $39.00, there is also a children’s menu available $10.00 -$12.00. Saga is by far the best Japanese Steak house in the greater Pittsburgh area, they offer a variety of fresh seafood and traditional dishes with great service in a professional, friendly and elegant environment.  Saga is definitely the premier address for serious seafood and service where your experience will be unforgettable.  Saga experience the difference!

In addition to the Robinson restaurant, they have two other locations; Cranberry, which is currently celebrating their “Grand Opening” and Monroeville, with a third location coming soon to the South Hills.

Open Monday – Thursday 11am-10P (lunch served 11am – 3pm, dinner 3pm-10pm) Friday Noon – 10pm (dinners served all day), Saturday Noon to 11pm and Sunday Noon – 10pm. Reservations recommended.

Saga also offers birthday celebration “special packages” for only $5.00. Package includes fried ice cream, a blooming, flaming lotus flower candle and a disco ball and all the servers singing a lively birthday song.  Saga also offers private party rooms for your holiday or any celebration and off site catering. Call 412-788-8668 ask for Sun, she’ll take care of everything and make sure your party is picture perfect!

Located at:

1040 Settler’s Ridge Center Rd

Robinson, PA 15205

Tel.: (412) 788-8668

Saga Hibachi Steakhouse & Sushi Bar on Urbanspoon


Icon Written by admin on August 15, 2010 – 7:19 pm

Nightwire likes to eat and we sure like to write about it!  Please read some of our reviews to find great places to eat!

Andrews Steak and Seafood – Northside – Pittsburgh

Archies – Pittsburgh

Bistro Soul – North Side – Pittsburgh

Bistro to Go – North Side – Pittsburgh

Blue – North Hills – Pittsburgh

BZ’s Bar and Grill – Pittsburgh

Cafe Notte – Emsworth – Pittsburgh

Cain’s Saloon – Dormont – Pittsburgh

Chicken Latino – Strip District – Pittsburgh

Di Pietro’s – Pittsburgh

Doce Taqueria – Pittsburgh

Emilia Romagna – Pittsburgh

Empire Palace – Pittsburgh

Everyday Noodles – Pittsburgh

Flavors of Fort Lauderdale – Florida

Four Wood Grill – Pittsburgh

Gabriella’s Restaurant – Pittsburgh

Gaucho Parrilla Argentina – Pittsburgh

Hofbräuhaus – Pittsburgh

Hokkaido Seafood Buffet – Pittsburgh

Latitude 40 – Pittsburgh

Legume – Pittsburgh

Mandy’s Pizza – North Side / West View – Pittsburgh

Monte Cello’s – North Hills – Pittsburgh

Monte Cello’s – Wexford – Pittsburgh

Over The Bar Bicycle Cafe North Park Boathouse – Pittsburgh

Round Corner Cantina – Pittsburgh

Saga Hibachi Steakhouse & Sushi Bar – Robinson – Pittsburgh

Sauce – Bridgeville – Pittsburgh

Sharp Edge Brasserie – Pittsburgh

Sharp Edge Bistro – Pittsburgh

Shiloh Grill – Mt. Washington – Pittsburgh

Stonepepper’s Grill – Pittsburgh

Tailgaters – Pittsburgh

Taverna 19 – Pittsburgh

Union Pig and Chicken – Pittsburgh

Villa – South Side – Pittsburgh

Village Tavern & Trattoria – West End

Willow – Pittsburgh

San Antonio Serenade

Icon Written by admin on May 3, 2016 – 5:24 pm

San Antonio Serenade
By: Suzanne Ferrara

It’s easy to get lost in San Antonio’s mystique; the central Texas city’s alluring charm and fascinating history is practically unmatched. The millions of visitors who return here, year after year, know first-hand that one visit is not enough. It’s the kind of place that seems to capture the soul and leaves you longing for more; in fact, it’s one of the most unique places on American soil, a place where you can experience some of the colorful character and spirited culture of Mexico.

Standing amidst this metropolis is a consummate symbol of courage and sacrifice: the iconic, awe-inspiring Alamo. No visit to San Antonio is complete without witnessing the “Shrine of Texas Liberty”, and the list of those who battled Santa Anna’s Mexican troops includes a veritable “who’s who of Texas history”: Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie and William Barret Travis.

While history unfolds inside these walls, it also comes to life in the treasure trove of amazing artifacts that reflect the site’s 300-year history. Included in the collection are personal items and objects of the Alamo defenders including Crockett’s ornate vest and Bowie’s knife.

Delve even further into the city’s natural and cultural heritage with a stroll through the picturesque Paseo Del Rio (the San Antonio River Walk). The renowned downtown River Walk is full of restaurants, shops, and bars, with many built of native stone. The beautiful San Antonio river flows through winding pathways lined with Cypress trees and lush tropical foliage.

Board a boat which glides underneath a canopies of trees and under stone-arched bridges, and as you do, you are sure to hear the sweet melody of strolling Mariachi bands serenading bystanders with their lively rhythms and harmonies. A great way to experience the River Walk is by taking a 35-minute, narrated boat ride tour offered by Rio San Antonio Cruises (which run from morning till night).

For an unforgettable experience, hop aboard one of the candlelit dinner cruises available for a relaxing evening on the river. Boudro’s, a New American bistro with wood-grilled steaks and seafood, serves up awesome fare, and the ride begins with bowls of the mouthwatering guacamole made with roasted tomatoes, fresh lime and orange juice. Sipping a refreshing signature Prickly Pear Margarita is a must.

After that, it’s only a few steps to a good night’s rest at the Marriot River Walk, which is conveniently located near several attractions. As a matter of fact, the River Walk’s pathways and a boarding stop for the river boats are right outside the hotel. (Tip: Request a river view room with a balcony).

In the morning, head to Market Square (El Marcado), the largest Mexican market in America, one filled with a plethora of specialty shops, produce stands and restaurants. In the heart of this three-block long plaza is the legendary Mi Tierra Restaurant and Bakery, a world famous landmark located in Market Square. The Cortez family has been serving scrumptious Tex Mex and authentic Mexican dishes since 1941 when it started with only three small tables; today there’s seating for more than 500. As musicians visit diners, Mi Tierra and its colorful décor of Christmas lights and pinatas, is the place for a spectacular feast.

Be sure to check out the inspiring grand artistic addition to this longtime establishment: a massive mural of Mexican Americans entitled “The American Dream”. This Spanish heritage masterpiece is the work of five artists, including local favorite Roberto Ituarte, and took more than two decades to complete. Ask your waiter to show you how to see the mural in 3-D, a special technique Ituarte used to make it seemingly come to life.

For an innovative yet deeply rooted traditional culinary experience, tempt your taste buds at La Gloria (The Heaven) located on the historic Pearl Brewery Complex. San Antonio’s famed Chef Johnny Hernandez offers unique, authentic street foods of Mexico like Tacos al Pastor of Mexico City to Cocteles de Mariscos from Veracruz. Hernandez takes authenticity to heart, and it shows, right down to the kitchen tools he uses to create his dishes.

Just fifteen minutes away from all of this vibrancy is the breath-taking Texas Hill Country, a perfect setting to unwind and have fun amid seemingly painted vistas. The San Antonio Hill Country is dotted with grand resorts offering guests both the best in luxury and entertainment; each has its own unique architecture and grand water features.
La Cantera Hill Country Resort, part of the Destination Hotels collection, sits on 550 picturesque acres. This estate boasts four pools (with poolside attendants), 10 luxury cabanas, and a bar that overlooks the scenic hills; plus, there’s a kids’ pool with a pair of slides of which they’ll never tire.

La Cantera also offers two world-class golf courses, including one designed by Arnold Palmer, and lessons are available from PGA professionals. For the young set, there’s endless fun at the resort’s Kids Club; and in the evening, the entire family can roast marshmallows and then watch Six Flags Fiesta Texas fireworks show.

This resort boasts nine distinctive dining and beverage options, ranging from casual to gourmet, and all have a southwestern flair. At Primero Cantina, Chef Zachary Garza uses his grandmother’s recipes and the flavors of Mexico (and Texas) in his creations. Be sure to try the Mixto Ceviche, Tacos Al Pastor, and their Carne Asada with house-made corn cakes and goat cheese, then finish it off with Sweet Tamales topped with hibiscus cream, corn nuts and fresh mint.

A special culinary feature: a charcuterie with delectable smoked meats and gourmet cheeses at Bocado. If that’s not enough, there’s an inventive and savory menu at Sweet Fire Kitchen including the unique deviled eggs and classic wood fired pizzas.

Six Flags Fiesta Texas is only one minute away from La Cantera Resort, and this theme park has dozens of thrill rides including the new 4-D free-fly Batman coaster, Bugs White Water Rapids, and Scooby Doo Ghost Blasters. Younger kids can venture to the water park and Kidzopolis plus take photos with numerous Looney Tunes and DC Comics’ characters.

Twenty miles away, in the community of Cibolo Canyons, is the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort and Spa. The resort’s six-acre River Bluff Water Experience is reason enough to check into this estate; this massive water feature has a 650-foot river ride, water slides, plus a 1,100-foot lazy river.

Want something special out of the water? Head to a pair of 18-hole PGA tour golf courses, walk or bike a five-mile trail thru rolling green hills, or take their “Nightlife” nature walking guided tour. After dark, you can stargaze with a resort astronomer or enjoy s’mores at your own campfire.

Leave your worries behind and renew yourself at the J. W. Marriott’s state-of-the-art, 26,000 square-foot full-service Latina Spa. This spa has a beautiful private pool, fitness center, café and boutique, and indigenous plants and herbs are used to pass on the healing traditions from the Curanderos (village healers) who lived more than 500 years ago.

Hungry or thirsty? There are seven restaurant and lounge options including Cibolo Moon which serves mouthwatering regional Hill Country cuisine with Mexican influences. J.W. Marriott also has a supervised kids’ recreational program at the Range Rider Kid’s Club where on some nights, children even make their own ice cream. Don’t be surprised if your little one doesn’t want to leave.

For more information go to, and

Emerald Coast Paradise — Santa Rosa Beach — Florida

Icon Written by admin on April 4, 2016 – 6:22 pm

Emerald Coast Paradise

By: Suzanne Ferrara

Nestled among the sugar-white sand and pristine turquoise waters of the famed Emerald Coast is the idyllic Santa Rosa Beach. This charming northwest Florida beach town is bordered by the Gulf of Mexico and the Choctawhatchee Bay, making it a nature lover’s paradise.

Adding to this picturesque escape, Santa Rosa Beach is home to the breath-taking Point Washington State Forest and the historic Eden Gardens State Park. These natural wonders add to the mystique of this coastal paradise for vacationers from around the world who seek this sublime refuge. Santa Rosa also boasts award-winning restaurants, boutique shops, family attractions and a myriad of outdoor adventures.

Perhaps the most alluring natural feature is the unspoiled white sand beaches and clear turquoise waters. There’s something truly hypnotic about hearing the ebb and flow of the gulf waves crashing onto the coastline, and at the award-winning, luxurious WaterColor Inn and Resort you can hear these natural sounds right outside your door or private balcony patio. That’s because the water’s edge only steps away from guests at this “Four Diamond” retreat.

Whether you want to relax in this enveloping oasis under the resort’s beach umbrellas or take a dip in either the invigorating clear gulf waters or one of six resort pools, the experience will renew your senses. Guests of the WaterColor Inn and Resort can enjoy the private beach club which overlooks the gulf; it’s here you can swim, relax, have lunch, or sip your favorite frozen concoction. (Tip: The club balcony is another great spot to watch the stunning Emerald Coast sunsets.)

Traveling with family? Camp WaterColor is chock-full of fun, kid-friendly activities. Adjoining rooms are available, or you can opt for an upscale beach house or cozy cottage. There’s also the convenience of a resort-wide concierge service, and everyone in the family will enjoy acres of parks, lush gardens, foot paths and a state-of-the-art fitness center.

The WaterColor community is pedestrian-friendly, and the very best way to get around is by foot or bike (the latter of which is provided by the nearby Bike Barn). A myriad of biking and walking trails are threaded throughout the sprawling (and charming) 500-acre development.

From the resort, take your two-wheels for a ride on the Timpoochee Trail which will give you an intimate look all along 30-A, a scenic highway along the Gulf of Mexico coast. Among the sights are mesmerizing views of snowy beaches, dune lakes, both old Florida and Caribbean architecture, and green trails.

Had enough of land exploration? For a memorable water adventure, head to WaterColor’s BoatHouse for a kayak, canoe, sailing, or YOLO boarding excursion. And fishermen should feel at home as well: cane poles and bait are available, you can fish right off of the BoatHouse docks on Western Lake. (Note: Because of this very unique coastal dune waterway, with spring waters which at times open to the Gulf, you can catch both fresh-water and salt-water fish).

Western Lake is a 220-acre rare coastal dune lake, and is sure to inspire anyone who paddles through its waters. To learn more about this fascinating environmental treasure, sign up for the unforgettable Walco Eco Tour with master naturalist Murray Balkcom. Whether it’s a guided family adventure or a romantic boat trip for two, you are sure to create a memory of a lifetime.

After all of this natural exploration, you will be ready for one of the most relaxing and pampered experiences offered along the Emerald Coast. Only 10-miles from the resort is the award-winning Serenity by the Sea Spa, a full-scale, 14,500 square-foot spa with 16 treatment rooms, a gorgeous vast nail salon, and a state-of-the-art fitness center.

The spa’s Serenity Lounge is a retreat unto itself with floating, zero-gravity chairs and the tranquil sounds of the gorgeous waterfall wall; nearby is the soothing whirlpool and relaxing steam room and sauna. A must experience: the new HydraFacial. You will never want another type of facial after you experience the addictive HydraFacial, and your skin will be glowing after this non-invasive, multi-step procedure.

Men love the large flat-screen television, healthy snacks, whirlpool, steam room and sauna in their lounge, as well. Staff here is second-to-none and they make this extraordinary spa even more unforgettable. Guests truly come first at Serenity by the Sea!

After melting your cares away, be sure to watch the blazing sunset, with its alternating hues of gold, orange and red from either your private WaterColor Inn accommodations or from your comfortable beach chair. You can even watch the sunset from your large walk-in shower, with inset windows that provide you with an expansive view of the gulf.

After a full day of activities, you will have worked up an appetite. Rest assured, there is a plethora of dining choices throughout Santa Rosa Beach, and fresh gulf seafood is a must while dining in northwestern Florida. With a host of passionate chefs, your taste buds will be satisfied in Santa Rosa Beach; in fact, the WaterColor Inn and Resort has four restaurants, including the multi-award winning Fish out of Water.

The WaterColor Inn’s Gathering Spot and Sushi Bar is where you will find Chef Slade Christmas, a culinary artist whose savory, innovative dishes are sure to please even the most discerning of palates. One of his claims to fame is his Lobster Grilled Cheese, a mouth-watering dish served with a cup of fresh tomato and red pepper soup; but there’s plenty of competition for Christmas’ ‘top dish’ creations, including his Sunomono Cucumber Salad and the WaterColor Roll. Upon request, Christmas will create a special five-course tasting plate dinner that you and your palate will never forget. Libation recommendations: Up in Smoke (a torched Sazerac Rye concoction) and the Strawberry Drop Martini made with homemade strawberry vodka.

The desire to please taste buds also runs deep in the veins of Chef Gio Filippone of Vue on 30a restaurant on Santa Rosa Beach. Chef Filippone began his culinary career as a little boy cooking with his entire family, and today, he is nationally known for his television debut on season five of the reality cooking show, “Hell’s Kitchen” with celebrity Chef, Gordon Ramsey. Vue on 30a is located directly on the Gulf of Mexico, and offers one of the Emerald Coast’s best views. Be sure to order the Pistachio Crusted Grouper and the Vue Fruits de Mer (a tasty seafood medley).

After a good night’s rest, head straight to WaterColor’s Fish out of Water restaurant for a scrumptious gourmet breakfast and, yes, sweeping views of the coast. While you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu, the omelets are superb.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you, but you won’t want to leave the WaterColor Inn and Resort. You will think to yourself, “I wish this could last forever!”

For more information go to and










5 Years of Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week With Vecenie Distributing

Icon Written by admin on April 4, 2016 – 6:18 pm

April is an amazing time of year. Not only does it mark the accepted end of winter and start of spring, but for those of us lucky enough to live in and around Pittsburgh it means Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week is back once again. While some people might say the most wonderful time of the year involves decorated trees and an obese bearded man handing out gifts, I would argue that PCBW holds that crown.

From beer festivals to tap takeovers to your chance at learning a little more about the beer you love, Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week is by far the most wonderful time of the year, and this year it’s even more special than normal. 2016 marks the 5th anniversary of a group of people in the craft beer industry deciding over a few beers that Pittsburgh deserved its own week to celebrate all things craft beer. While the idea itself isn’t new, these craft beer pioneers gave life to the idea in Pittsburgh and since then, it’s only grown in size and appreciation.

This year Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week falls in the middle of April, running from April 15th through the 24th. Across the hundreds of events this year you’ll find something for everyone. From samplings of new breweries to meeting the brewer to trying some extra rare beers…there’s a lot going on!

Vecenie Distributing is a founding sponsor of Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week and them, along with founding board member Tony “Beer Man” Knipling, they have made PCBW a reality for all of us in and around Pittsburgh. In fact, without sponsors like Vecenie Distributing we probably wouldn’t have a 5th year of Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week to celebrate. You can learn more about Vecenie’s events and their involvement with PCBW by heading to or checking them out on twitter and Facebook, both @ BeerSince1933.

Vecenie’s is bringing the big guns this year with some of the most interesting events of the entire week with some of the biggest names in craft beer like Stone Brewing Co., Dogfish Head Brewing, Bells Brewing, Oskar Blues, Victory, and Tröegs Independent Brewing to name a few. Check out some of the best events Vecenie’s has to offer for Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week below, and to see all the events head over to

PCBW Kick-Off Party

Kick off Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week in style at The Library with Vecenie’s Distributing and Weyerbacher Brewing. Along with a variety of great craft beer on tab they’ll also have two different years of the elusive Sunday Morning Stout on draft. You won’t find this anywhere else, so don’t miss your chance to try a 2-year vertical of the barrel-aged stout. Best of all, there’ll be Weyerbacher glasses to give away for some lucky early birds while they last. Fun starts on April 15th at 7 pm.

Joint 20th Anniversary Celebration

Along with PCBW’s 5th anniversary this year, Victory Brewing and Dogfish Head Brewing are both celebrating their 20th year in the craft beer world. Vecenie’s will be helping them celebrate at Smokin’ Joe’s in the South Side the best way possible, with some amazing beers. Try some hard to find beers from Dogfish head including their huge beer “Higher Math.” Check this event out on the 21st starting at 8 pm.

Voodoo Tap Takeover

The always amazing Voodoo Brewing wil be taking over the taps at New Kensington’s House of 1,000 Beers on Friday the 15th starting at 7 pm. Come try some of their year-round favorites as well as a few hard to find rarities that’ll have to be seen to be believed.

Brewery Rep Olympics

Coming back again this year is the Brewery Rep Olympics on three different days at three different venues. Check out Night 1 on Sunday the 17th at The Summit, Night 2 on Monday the 18th at Hough’s, and Night 3 on Tuesday the 19th at Barrel Junction. Each night’s activities begins at 8 pm and features Dogfish Head, Oskar Blues, Victory Brewing, and Otter Creek.

Blue Dust Oysterfest

Another returning event for 2016 is Blue Dust’s Oysterfest held under the Homestead Grey’s Bridge. Join your fellow craft beer and oyster-loving comrades and try a variety of beers including Otter Creek Brewing and try a variety of oysters all while enjoying the nearly-guaranteed beautiful weather.

Beer and Pizza Pairing

Few things in this world go together better than beer and pizza, and to prove this point, Burgh Pizza and Wing Pub is featuring a Beer, Pizza, and Wing pairing on April 20th starting at 7 pm. Come hang out with Tony “The Beer Man” and try some hand-selected pairings featuring a variety of beers. They’re taking their beer, pizza, and wings so seriously that this is a ticketed event. Call 412-257-8767 to get in on the fun.

All About Beer Class

Speaking of ticketed events, The Crafty Jackelope is featuring an All About Beer Class with 5 beers, 5 “bits” (small plates), and lots of great beer stories from some craft beer industry folk. Class is in session on April 21st starting at 7 pm. Tickets for this event are available by calling 412-220-9785.

As for the rest of the events, there are far too many to even give you an idea of the size of PCBW 2016. With help from Vecenie’s Distributing and all the other PCBW sponsors, this is easily shaping up to be the biggest and best year yet. Get your excuses ready now to call off of work and have yourself a merry little PCBW.

The events listed above have all been made available by Vecenie Wholesale, a five-year founding sponsor of Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week.

Beer World – Spring 2016

Icon Written by admin on February 28, 2016 – 11:32 am

Spring Has Sprung in the Beer World

Well, that seer of seers and prognosticators of prognosticators Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow this year, which hopefully means we’ll have an early spring, and while the jury’s still out on whether or not the groundhog is correct, spring has definitely sprung in the beer world, no matter what the thermometer says.

From Helles Bocks to light and fruity IPAs, spring has definitely spring in the beer world and we have the proof. Check out our favorite springtime beers below as hand-picked by Beerman Tony from Vecenie’s and celebrate our favorite marmot’s prediction.

Anderson Valley Brewing Co.

Spring Hornin’ IPA – As the flowers start to come out, a great floral IPA is just about perfect, and Anderson Valley’s Spring Hornin’ IPA is just that. Light in color and big on taste, you should notice floral aromas along with white pepper, and Bartlett pears followed up with a taste that has a strong, clean malt body and herbal hop flavors. The finish is nice and dry, with just enough bitterness to be refreshing.

Spring Hornin’ comes in at 6.8% ABV and is brewed using Columbus, Golding, Nugget, and Northern Brewer hops. Spring Hornin’ is a great beer for the season, and should be at the top of your list. Spring Hornin’ pairs well with Fish and chips, roasted lamb, peppery Korean beef, and even oatmeal raisin cookies.

Briny Melon Gose – A beer style that’s gaining notoriety once again is the Gose (pronounced go-sah). These beers are slightly salty with a tart character that’s akin to a sour beer, but more tart than sour. The folks over at Anderson Valley Brewing Company have brewed a few varieties of this classic beer style, including this brand-new version that’s bound to please.

The classic gose is paired with subtle watermelon to give this beer a perfect harmony between acidity and fruity sweetness. The finish is nice and dry, giving you a beer that’s both tart and sweet without any lingering sweetness on the finish. As with others in the style, this new gose comes in at 4.2% ABV and is available in bottles, cans, and on draft.

Bell’s Brewery

Smitten Golden Rye – Rye is a very unique ingredient for beer. It imparts a spiciness and body that’s unique to the grain, and when used correctly it can make a truly amazing beer. Bell’s Brewery made their Smitten Ale featuring rye to bring out these exact characteristics. On the nose you’ll notice peppery rye spiciness along with a noticeable bready aroma. The taste has rye up front with a nice citrusy hop character following it up. All of this sits nicely on a malt backbone that’s all about bready malt. The rye imparts a creamy mouthfeel that finishes the beer up perfectly.

Bell’s Smitten Golden Rye Ale comes in at 6% ABV and is available only during the spring and early summer. Smitten is a great example of an interesting take on the traditional American Pale Ale with a nice rye malt twist. Smitten Golden Rye Ale pairs very well with strong cheeses, salty snacks, and savory meats.

Dogfish Head Brewing Co.

Romantic Chemistry – It’s a pretty big understatement to say that the bread and butter of Dogfish Head Brewing Company’s beer lineup is the IPA, but it’s the truth. This wildly popular style is once again being refreshed and made even better, this time by brewing the beer with mango, apricot, and ginger. Together these flavors and aromas join forces to make a beer that’s one serious IPA! Coming in at 8% ABV, this beer will be available in 12-oz bottles and on draft now. If you were a fan of Aprihop, then this beer is right up your alley.

Beer to Drink Music To – The folks at Dogfish Head love their music almost as much as they love their beer. They’ve collaborated on quite a few music-inspired beers in the past, and keeping with this trend is the oddly named Beer to Drink Music To.

This new seasonal beer is a Belgian-style Tripel that’s brewed with sweet orange peel, green cardamom, peppercorns, and vanilla. Look for this 9% ABV beer on draft and in 12-oz bottles very soon.

Otter Creek Brewing Co.

Citra Mantra – A newer style that’s been gaining popularity is the India Pale Lager, or IPL. Similar to the IPA, just made as a lager instead of an ale. You still get the fresh bitterness of an IPA, but with the crispness and light body of a lager.

Otter Creek Brewing’s Citra Mantra is their take on the IPL style, featuring Citra hops. This gives the beer a fresh citrus flavor along with a crisp bitterness. Along with the tropical fruit character, the choice of German malts gives the beer a unique body that makes it easy to drink. The 5.75% ABV helps you to have more than one in a sitting, too. Make sure you get this one quickly though, because just like spring, this beer won’t be around long. Citra Mantra pairs well with spicy dishes like Mexican and Thai, as well as savory Italian dishes like chicken parmesan.

Steampipe (new) – A new beer for 2016, Steampipe from Otter Creek Brewing takes the classic California Common beer style and brings it into a year-round rotation at Otter Creek. Inc ase you’re not familiar, the California Common beer style is a style of beer that’s also known of as a “Steam Beer,” and as the name suggests, originated in California.

This 6% ABV beer has a juicy kick of west-coast hops paired with the well-balanced beer style make for an easy-drinking beer that has enough bitterness for fans of the IPA to love as well as those who enjoy less bitter beers.

Stone Brewing Co.

Pataskala Red X IPA – Pat-as-kal-ah…Pa-tas-ka-la…Patas-kala…However it’s pronounced the beer under the label is where it’s at, anyway. This unique red IPA was first brewed in September of 2015 to support music and arts education programs in none other than Pataskala, Ohio where Stone’s co-founder Greg Koch grew up. It was such a hit that Stone decided to release it to the rest of us, too.

The red part of this beer’s name comes from the dark crimson color the beer pours, which comes from the malt variety used in brewing. This, paired with a massive dry-hopping of Mosaic, Cascade, and Amarillo hops give this beer a citrus-forward flavor that’s backed up with biscuit and toffee notes. Coming in at 7.3% ABV and 75 IBUs, this is one beer that you don’t want to miss, even if you can’t pronounce it. Stone Brewing’s Pataskala Red will be available in 12oz bottles and on draft.

Americano Stout (new) – As Stone Brewing often does, the trend of springtime beers has been bucked with the release of a big and dark stout. This 8.7% ABV beer is a true American stout that has rich espresso added to give the beer a heavy dose of bitterness along with the creamy near-sweetness of espresso.

Every 250-barrel batch of this beer brewed utilizes more than 250 pounds of espresso-roast beans. This, paired with Columbus, Chinook, Amarillo, and Cascade hops give the beer a resiny citrus character that pairs very well with the coffee. In short, this is one dark beer you won’t mind drinking even when the weather starts to clear.

Straub Brewing Co.

Maibock – Straub Brewing of St. Mary’s, PA brews some pretty amazing beers, which shouldn’t surprise anyone familiar with the brewery. One of their newer offerings is a 6.9% ABV all-malt Maibock.

Straub’s Maibock is literally a bock beer released in May, and this version is brewed using a combination of German and American ingredients. The nose is full of caramel and malty aromas with a little hop character to balance things out. Taste follows the taste, but adds a little more hop to back up the big malt taste. Maibocks pair very well with a variety of foods including cheeses like Gruyere, meats like ham, seafood, and even deserts like carrot cake.

Legacy Sampler – Straub Brewery has been in the brewing business since 1872 and today they’re not only producing quality beers that have been around for much of their history, but new and innovative beers as well. Take for example their Legacy Sampler, a mix pack of beers that show the history of Straub Brewery better than any history book ever could. The sampler includes their 1872 Lager, a 5.4% ABV pre-prohibition style lager, longtime favorite Helles Lager, a 5.5% ABV lager, Dopplebock, a 7% ABV Winter Bock, and Their 5.6% ABV IPL, Straub’s take on an India Pale Ale, but in the lager style.

Tröegs Independent Brewing

Cultivator – With the ground thawing, it’s time to start cultivating the ground and get those crops planted. Not into the whole farming business? That’s fine, you can still join in with Tröeg’s Cultivator Helles Bock.

This 6.9% ABV lager is a fresh and crisp beer with just enough hop bitterness to be refreshing. Brewed with floor malted Bohemian Pilsner malt and Hersbrucker and Magnum hops, Cultivator is possibly the perfect spring beer. The malt body gives the beer a little more meat than a typical lager while still staying light enough to be delicious.

Cultivator pairs very well with a variety of cheeses including Asiago, Colby, Gruyère and Swiss. The malty sweetness and clean, dry finish of the beer also complements spicy dishes like Thai or Korean BBQ, shellfish, and a variety of fried foods.

Victory Brewing Co.

Anniversary 20 IPA – Once again the folks at Victory Brewing have created a beer to celebrate their anniversary. Sticking with the idea that a sessionable beer is best for a celebration, their 20th Anniversary beer is a 5.5% ABV IPA.

This refreshing IPA might clock in at the top of what we’d call sessionable, but it drinks like a beer you could enjoy all night long, if you catch our drift. This beer utilizes experimental Idaho 7 hops to give the beer a surprisingly crisp citrus and pine character while keeping nice and balanced with the choice of Pilsner and CaraPils malt. This beer is out now and should be available through March on draft and in bottles, so get it while you can.

Each of these beers are proudly distributed in and around the Pittsburgh area by Vecenie Distributing.

BZ Craft Beers

Icon Written by admin on February 28, 2016 – 11:26 am

BZ Craft Bar & Twisted Eatery……

The newest buzz at BZ is their state-of-the-art Digital Pour board. Digital Pour is a highly techno electronic board which displays all of the beers BZ has on tap, in “real time” with an electronic, digital display, showing how much beer is left in every keg along with Brewery’s logo and pricing. You’ll know instantly if your favorite beer is ready to kick or if it’s full or half full, etc.! BZ is the first bar in Pittsburgh to have one of these amazing boards. So if you haven’t stopped in yet, BZ just gave you another reason to do so. Plus, their Director of Operations, Clint Bylo, is a Cicerone Certified Beer Server. For those of you that have never heard of that term, a Beer Cicerone is similar to a wine Sommelier, only with beer. Stop into BZ and ask Clint to recommend a great tasting beer that would be perfect – just for you.

“We gotta lota style too – beer style. You’re sure to find a beer you’ve always wanted to try – with over 40 different beer styles, from 5 countries, representing 33 brewers, totaling 100+ beers (30 0n draft) we’ve got your beer! Oh, we’ve got some fine Liquor and tasty wines too, but make no mistake – we’re a craft beer bar first and foremost!” says Eric Rimpela, VP of Operations.

“We don’t have an absurd list of 750 different beers, with 600 of them sitting on a shelf getting old and skunky, or stock 18 mediocre IPA’s and only 3 other beer styles, or carry lots of average, run-of-the-mill “lawnmower” beers. We’re different – all the beers we stock are truly special and highly regarded within their style. We also stock a nice selection of locally brewed beers that are the pride of Pittsburgh. Customers can be assured the beer they purchase will be the finest example of beer within its style. We sell the very best – highest rated beer ranked by the independent beer rating website “Beer Advocate” said Clint.

Eric added “To ensure customers are served the best tasting beer possible (just like the brewers intended) we’ve done the following: (1) we’ve built our bar with the shorted beer lines possible (beer won’t go through a 100ft of bacteria-infested plastic lines before it goes into your glass). (2) We make it a point to clean the draft beer lines every 2 weeks or less! Most restaurants might clean their beer lines once a month! (3) We’ve installed “beer clean” plumbing fixtures to ensure every glass we use is “beer clean” so you’ll be able to appreciate all the nuances of a great beer (long legs, smell, head retention, taste and color).

BZs happy hour is Monday through Friday 4:30pm-7pm; they offer $2.00 off ALL craft beer, $5.00 signature drinks & martinis and ½ off on ALL wines and ALL appetizers, making BZ the best “happy hour” on the North Shore. In addition to their happy hour they offer great daily specials: Mondays 5pm – close – $.50 beef sliders and $1.00 duck sliders. Tuesday’s its $1.00 ribs and Wednesdays 1/2 price Phuket 2-way Wings. (fun fact: Phuket is a island province of Thailand). Plus, join Nightwire every Sunday night from 6pm-9pm for the best “happy hour” around – $2.00 off all craft beer and ½ price on ALL appetizers. What a great way to end your weekend!

BZs entire menu consists of daily “made from scratch” recipes with only the finest and freshest ingredients. If you haven’t tried BZ Craft Bar and Twisted Eatery, what are you waiting for? Their menu definitely has something for everyone: from starters to homemade soups, small plates, salads, huge sandwiches, burgers, pizzas, mac and cheese (the best in the burg) and so much more. Check out their full menu at

BZ Craft Bar & Twisted Eatery – Open 7 days a week 11AM

140 Federal Street (Across from PNC Park)

Pittsburgh, PA 15212


New Orleans — Beyond Mardi Gras

Icon Written by admin on January 28, 2016 – 2:21 pm

New Orleans Beyond Mardi Gras
By: Suzanne Ferrara

No matter who you are, New Orleans will capture your soul in an instant. It is truly a place like no other.

It has its own language, oozes culture, charm, and is deep in 300 years of fascinating history. The Crescent City, which borders the mighty Mississippi and Lake Pontchartrain, brims with some of the most genuinely friendly people you will ever encounter. It’s no wonder that once you visit her, she’ll hypnotize you and you’ll never want to leave her warmth and grandeur. Know this: just one visit won’t be enough to uncover the many awe-inspiring treasures Crescent City has to offer.

Mardi Gras parades, hot jazz, King Cake, gumbo, and the iconic French Quarter…the list of New Orleans’ hallmarks is endless.

One of the best ways to experience the French Quarter and other iconic areas of New Orleans is by carriage. Some of these mule-lead carriages have been in operation for nearly a century, and the ‘buggy ride,’ as many locals call it, is not just popular with tourists.

Be sure to board one of New Orleans’ Royal Carriages which offers six distinctive unforgettable journeys. In addition to the French Quarter’s Vieux Carre’ tour, these rides will bring you uptown to the Garden District (where you’ll see the homes of movie stars) or perhaps the legendary oak-lined St. Charles Avenue with its breath-taking mansions.

Plus, your city-licensed guide will hop off and give you a tour of the legendary St. Louis #1 Cemetery, the oldest above-ground cemetery in North America. You’ll certainly get an earful of fascinating New Orleans history, and you’ll see the storied streets of this great city at a leisurely pace, as if you were traveling in the 18th and 19th centuries. (Tip: Take a morning private ride and request John Cosentino for any tour).

Another way to truly experience this rich city is by taking a cruise along the mighty Mississippi River aboard the historic Steamboat Natchez. The Natchez is one of the last, authentic, steam-powered paddle wheelers on the river, and you will get spectacular views you cannot see anywhere else. You can also tempt your taste buds with a sumptuous New Orleans-style lunch or dinner, all as you listen to live Dixieland jazz. Be sure to head to Natchez’s third level bar where you can wet your whistle with the steamer’s famous savory Bloody Mary.

No visit to New Orleans is complete without dining at one of the many French-creole restaurants where the cuisine is derived from centuries of cultural culinary recipes.
Head to the legendary Antoine’s Restaurant which is celebrating 175 years of service! Antoine’s has been serving since 1840, and in that time celebrities, royalty, U.S. Presidents and even Pope John Paul II have enjoyed the superb cuisine. And how’s this for history? Many of the waiters are ancestors of those who served here over a hundred years ago. (Be sure to request Charles, a fourth-generation waiter deeply rooted in the tradition of Antoine’s). Ask for a private tour of the restaurant which includes a ‘secret’ room, and a peek at the legendary 165-foot long wine cellar that holds 25,000 bottles of wine.

For appetizers be sure to try the delicious Pommes de Terre Soufflés (Antoine’s classic fried puff potatoes) or the Huitres en Coquille a la Rockefeller (Louisiana Gulf Oysters baked on a half shell with the original Rockefeller sauce created by Antoine’s in 1889); then follow it with Pompano Pontchartrain (Grilled filet of pompano with lump crabmeat sautéed in butter) and finish things with Antoine’s famous Baked Alaska.

Breakfast, lunch or dinner at Brennan’s Restaurant on Royal Street is a must! This eatery has been a tradition since 1946. Sumptuous dishes such as Eggs Hussarde (a Brennan’s original), Seafood File Gumbo, Brennan’s Oyster Soup and New Orleans’ classic Grouper Almondine are just a few items that will tempt your taste buds. Do not leave without finishing your meal with the famous Banana’s Foster!

Another dessert option is Café Du Monde which at its French Market location, has been a New Orleans tradition since 1862. Enjoy mouthwatering beignets (a French style square donut covered in powdered sugar) and either a cup of dark roast coffee and chicory or a cup of Café Au’Lait (coffee mixed with half and half and hot milk).

New Orleans is the birthplace of jazz, and you will be whisked away by the mesmerizing sounds of Dixieland. Some of the top choices to hear this authentic styled repartee are Fretzels European Jazz Club, New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park, and the Maison Bourbon.

New Orleans is full of a variety of museums extending from the French Quarter to downtown and midtown. The Presbytere, located next to the historic St. Louis Cathedral, has an elaborate collection of Mardi Gras artifacts and memorabilia, and offers an interactive exhibit will give you a realistic Mardi Gras experience.

As everyone knows, the celebration never ends in this city! So head to the legendary Pat O’Brien’s where you can drink the legendary “Hurricane” or visit the new 21st Amendment Bar at La Louisiane, which celebrates just that, the repeal of Prohibition.

After all the sightseeing, you’ll be ready to rest up for the next day. If you are looking for an historic French Quarter oasis, the Audubon Cottages will transport you to another place and time. This secluded hideaway surrounded by an 18th century brick enclosure and lush tropical gardens is a stone’s throw away from all the action. It’s hard to believe these “Five Star Alliance” accommodations are just one block away from Bourbon Street.

There are seven cottages from which to choose, most with private courtyards, and all surround by what is believed to be the French Quarter’s oldest in-ground swimming pool (heated), set in original brick. Audubon Cottages are named after famed painter and naturalist John James Audubon; he lived in cottage number one back in 1821, and finished part of his legendary “Birds of America Series” in cottage number seven. Modern-day celebrities have discovered this unique getaway, too: Elizabeth Taylor stayed in cottage number three 27 times!

It’s hard to choose which cottage to reserve. All buildings have exposed historic brick, original wooden beams, and beautiful wooden floors; and most cottages include a living and dining room, an original fireplace, one or two bedrooms and a private courtyard. Number four is a two-story cottage with a balcony and spacious lush courtyard.

Butlers assigned to each cottage (Ada is a gem and will make sure you have absolutely anything you desire), and complimentary cheeses, fruit, sweets and champagne are among the treats waiting for you. If that’s not enough, Alfred Edwards, a true New Orleanian, aims to please and will whip up anything you desire for your complimentary breakfast.

Another French Quarter lodging suggestion would be to stay at the Bourbon Orleans Hotel. It’s been nearly two centuries, but amazingly, in this hotel stands the iconic Orleans Ballroom. It is there the aristocratic elite took part in decadent galas, balls and celebrations that were said to be the envy of Europe.

This was also the site of the grandiose and controversial quadroon balls, during which married European noblemen and Creole aristocrats were paired with a mistress, a young creole with fair skin, adding to the mystique: the Bourbon Orleans is known as the most haunted hotel in New Orleans.

Bourbon Orleans’ guests can take part in a seasonal five-course candlelight period dinner with costumed reenactors portraying the most notable military leaders involved in the Battle of New Orleans. Enjoy similar historic meals which the Marquis de Lafayette and other European nobility ate in these very walls.

To say that the Bourbon Orleans has a distinctive location is an understatement. Stand on the Bourbon Orleans’ promenade balcony and turn to your left? You get a dramatic back view of the St. Louis Cathedral and the breath-taking basilica garden. Turn to your right? There’s iconic, historic and exciting Bourbon Street.

For luxury accommodations right outside the French Quarter, try the Windsor Court Hotel. And you don’t have to be British Royalty or travel to Buckingham Palace to have this truly regal experience in New Orleans. Visitors might feel as if they’re walking into England’s Windsor Castle when they enter the Windsor Court Hotel. While the luxury hotel is dripping in British decor, it also has a warm and inviting feel.

It’s no wonder visiting U.S. presidents, British royalty, movie actors and rock stars have called this hotel ‘home’. The AAA Four-Diamond, Forbes Four-Star designation has earned the hotel a plethora of prestigious awards and recognitions, including “Best Hotel in the World” from Travel and Leisure Magazine. The accommodations are impressive and meticulously decorated, and boast breath-taking panoramic views of the mighty Mississippi River or the Crescent City.

Life’s most celebrated events take place at the hotel’s Grill Room, New Orleans’ only four- star/four diamond restaurant. Regional dishes with fresh local ingredients (done with a bit of a twist) reign, as Chef de Cuisine Daniel Causgrove tempt your taste buds with his exquisite culinary creations.

Le Salon’s afternoon tea, just off the lobby, is a must experience while in New Orleans. The finest brews are steeped, poured and accompanied by mouth-watering sandwiches, scones and an assortment of fine chocolates, and soothing melodies from a harpist or string-trio complete the experience.

The Windsor Court’s Polo Club Lounge has a feel reminiscent of a private club in England. Roger, a legend here, uses his mixology skills to create hand-crafted cocktails sure to wet your whistle. (Tip: Be sure to try his creation, ‘Nicole’).

And don’t forget the kids! New Orleans has a plethora of enjoyable experiences for the little ones and the kids at heart; a trip to the award-winning Audubon Zoo, Aquarium of the Americas, and the Insectarium will surely entertain the whole family. Whether you’re on a romantic getaway, a guys’ or girls’ trip, or a family vacation, the alluring and fascinating Crescent City will capture your heart and soul.

For more information go to:,, and the

Travel – Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin

Icon Written by admin on December 30, 2015 – 2:44 pm

By: Suzanne Ferrara

It’s the sort of place that many are not aware exists; Chicagoans call it God’s Country. Once you feast your eyes on the breathtakingly gorgeous terrain and serene natural beauty you completely understand and will make certain of this. The pristine lake formed by glaciers is the draw for visitors who instantly find their cares and worries melt away once they arrive in this wonderland for all seasons.

Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin is a snapshot of a Normal Rockwell scene. You will feel so at home as the warm people envelop you and make feel like you’ve lived there your entire life. The area offers so much to see and do, and once you visit, like the tens of thousands before; you will want to come back time and time again. It truly is like a home away from home.

The crown jewel of Elkhart is the Osthoff Resort, a AAA Four Diamond, all-suite hotel perched on the bank of Elkhart Lake. The resort, originally built in 1885 has incredible views, as it is surrounded by a lake beach, cedar trees, water features plus a myriad of walking trails. Just a few steps from the resort there is a quaint village market square with unique, locally-owned shops and restaurants housed in buildings dripping with history, some of which have grand, turn-of- the-century wooden bars.

Winding around the resort, through the village and over the hills, are signs marking the historic open road-racing circuits of Elkhart Lake which date back to 1950; and yes, despite the fact that public road racing was banned by the state legislature in 1952, tradition lives on in these parts. Racing continues in Elkhart at Road America, a premier circuit road race course that opened in 1955 and has scores of races from motorcycles, Indy cars, to classic cars. The four-mile rolling track is internationally known, and serves as a favorite among racing professionals and celebrity drives. Got a need for speed yourself? Try out Road America’s racing school.

There is something to be said about taking part in activities while you’re surrounded by all of this natural beauty. Elkhart Lake offers a plethora of things to do on and around the lake. First and foremost, the Osthoff Resort under the management of Lola Roech, here you will find everything you could possibly imagine. Like the resort, Lola, a native, exudes hospitality along with “all” of her employees, which adds to the warmth of the Elkhart Lake experience. You’ll know without a doubt, you are in very capable hands and there’s something very special here.

This 40-acre luxury resort boasts one of the Midwest’s premier spas, Aspira, which is nestled on the shores of the legendary Elkhart Lake. This spa has grand suites with fireplaces, private whirlpools and showers, a breath-taking meditation sanctuary and a yoga studio. Aspira’s architectural and interior design follows the premise of the Feng shui philosophy of balance, peace and harmony, and the spa’s unique holistic approach pays homage to Elkhart Lake’s healing and restorative powers (a belief which dates back to the indigenous peoples.) The glacially-formed, spring-fed lake has attracted many seeking physical healing from various ailments for more than a century. Many still come here to rejuvenate their minds and renew their spirits with the clear turquoise waters of the lake, here they find solace at Aspira.

Their signature massage, Sacred Waters, is derived from the waters of Elkhart Lake which the Native Americans considered sacred and powerful. This warm water treatment is sure to melt away your worries and relax the entire body. Another example of the spa’s use of the area’s natural wonders is the Cedars Massage, a therapy involving fresh cedar, picked daily from the lake shore, which is used over the body and emits a fresh, intoxicating scent. Three of the Osthoff’s massage therapists studied under world renowned physical therapist John Barnes and are trained in the Myofacial Release Approach.

The Elderberry facial is also a must. Dried elderberries and chamomile flowers from the resort grounds are ground right in front of you, thus guaranteeing its freshness. The concoction releases an extraordinary scent and creates an anti-oxidant exfoliation cream of the purest form. There are more than fifty treatments from which to choose at the Aspira Spa, and that does not include hair and makeup services. You will not leave this spa feeling the same way you did when you entered, and you certainly will lose track of time and your sense of place.

Would you like to eat the same savory meals that King Louis XIV and centuries later Napoleon Bonaparte ate at their tables? Well not only can you enjoy the historically traditional cuisine that was served in wealthy French homes for hundreds of years, but you can make it yourself!
The Osthoff has its own cooking school, “L’ecole de la Maison, where resort Chef Scott Baker teaches students how to make traditional tried-and-true French recipes that have been passed on for centuries. And you don’t have to be a serious cook to attend the classes; Baker will make a complete novice feel comfortable making dishes like Mushroom Veloute with Duxelles Crostini. Students can also create the recipes of legendary French Chef Auguste Escoffier, a culinary legend who updated many French cooking methods in the late 1800s.

The cooking school is patterned after a very large traditional French kitchen and has every tool you will ever need to make that perfect dish. Chef Baker even has assistants who organize all the tools and ingredients you will need and best of all they clean up the mess. Baker’s philosophy is to let students do as much as they can on their own, and guests can choose the specific cooking class they wish to attend.

To say these hands-on cooking classes are a fun experience is an understatement; in the end everyone is proud and somewhat surprised by the delectable French dishes they created at the Osthoff. Enjoying the five-course meal or dish you prepared with fellow students and friends at L’ecole de la Maison is the perfect way to end this memorable cooking experience.

If you love outdoor adventure of every kind, Elkhart Lake has some amazing possibilities. The Osthoff offers dozens of activities such as kayaks, pontoon boat tours and biking; while on the water, the natural features of the lake alone are breath-taking and large freshwater fish abound. The resort also has indoor and outdoor pools, a fitness center, arcade, gift shop and two restaurants. Lola’s on the Lake, the resort’s signature restaurant, serves a variety of dishes sure to impress even the most discerning palate. The resort’s Otto’s Restaurant is casual fare and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. A must-try is: Otto’s mouth-watering Baked Berry Pancake, a delicacy unique to the area.

The Elk Room, a resort favorite has an Old Faithful Inn feel with wooden beams, natural stone and a large fireplace in addition to mesmerizing views of the lake thanks to the floor- to-ceiling windows. There are also several seating areas and a bar which serves hand-crafted cocktails, craft beers and an extensive wine list of fine wines.

The Osthoff Resort is both very romantic and family friendly, and appeals to everyone. The accommodations are spacious and the suites have balconies overlooking the natural splendor of Elkhart Lake. Rooms are meticulously kept with fireplaces and full kitchens which will make you feel right at home. Plus for a unique shopping experience head to the Village Square, which is walking distance from the Osthoff. All of the shops and boutiques here are locally owned and carry special items, many of which you won’t find anywhere else. There are a wide variety of retail businesses including Nordic Accents, Two Fish Gallery and Sculpture Garden to Lieutenant Dave’s Area 51 Vintage Shop. Be sure to stop at the Off the Rail Café, a local favorite which is housed in Elkhart Lake’s original railroad depot.
You don’t have to go to Napa Valley to have an extensive wine-tasting experience and education. The Vintage Elkhart Lake Wine Shop and Tasting Bar is sure to please with over 150 wines hand-selected by owner Jaclyn Stuart, an award-winning certified sommelier; Stuart pairs Wisconsin cheeses and assorted aged Balsamic vinegars, which are sold in her shop, at each wine tasting.

Enjoy more spirits at The Back Porch Bistro at the Victorian Village Resort with picture-perfect views of Elkhart Lake. This place is a local favorite for a nightcap and delectable desserts. You can get great hand-crafted cocktails, including specialty winter libations, like the Holiday Mule, which is actually a refreshing concoction any time of year.

After eating dessert “before” dinner, travel just a few blocks to the Paddock Club restaurant. The Paddock Club is in a beautifully restored historic building where you can watch the bustling activity in the open-style kitchen from a turn-of-the-century bar. Be sure to try one of their homemade pasta dishes for your entrée and then the Panna Cotta, a light, vanilla bean custard for dessert.

The resort itself is practically one-stop shopping for recreation and relaxation. Despite the seemingly endless list of amenities to partake in at the Osthoff, the only thing you’ll eventually desire is… for your visit to never end. You will certainly leave with an extended list of fun and relaxing memories and the
yearning to return.

Elkhart Lake is not only loved; it’s beloved by locals and generations of visitors. Once people discover it, they come back time and time again, many for the rest of their lives. With its Norman Rockwell charm, breath-taking natural wonders, deep history and legendary anecdotes, Elkhart Lake is a destination that offers an experience like no other.

For more information go to: and

Breckenridge Brewery – 2015

Icon Written by admin on November 30, 2015 – 10:47 pm

Breckenridge Brewery

It seems like there’s a new brewery opening every few weeks with a variety of new and weird brews to offer the world. Sure, these new guys are great, but at the core of the craft beer world are breweries that have been around since the term “craft beer” wasn’t in our collective lexicon just yet. Breweries like Colorado’s Breckenridge Brewery, which opened its doors in February of 1990 and set the foundation for the new breweries we all love today. It’s thanks to breweries like Breckenridge that we have the term craft beer today.

While the original brewpub, which is still open today, was only capable of brewing around 3,000 barrels of beer each year, their current location puts out a massive 66,000 barrels of beer each year. It’s no wonder Breckenridge is in the top 50 US breweries when it comes to sales.
With a history longer than most, and some of the best beer around, it’s no wonder that Breckenridge Brewery is still going strong.

The Brewery
Located in the town of Breckenridge, Colorado the first iteration of Breckenridge Brewery opened its doors to the public in February of 1990, making it only the third brewpub in the state. Richard Squire, the founder of Breckenridge Brewery opened the brewpub on the historic main street of Breckenridge hoping to bring great beer to the masses. Paired with amazing homemade food the beer basically sold itself, pushing Squire to open a second location only two years later in Denver.

As luck would have it, directly across the street from Breckenridge’s second location would turn out to be the new home to none other than the Colorado Rockies baseball team in 1995. This influx thirsty patrons meant Squire’s team couldn’t make beer at the rate it was being consumed. Early last year, Breckenridge Brewery announced the plans for its new 85,000 sq. ft., $35 Million brewery and Farmhouse restaurant, located on a 12-acre country spread along the South Platte River in Littleton, CO.

Breckenridge Brewery opened the doors to the new brewery with an initial capacity of 150,000 bbl/year, and that will be expandable to about 300,000 bbl /year before needing to build any additional structures. The brewery, ranked the 40th largest U.S. Craft Brewery in 2013, has posted higher than 20% growth for the past four years. The new production facility will allow Breckenridge Brewery to continue this growth in a sustainable manner. Currently, the Denver brewery is at maximum capacity, operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, just to meet demand.

Today Breckenridge operates five separate brewpubs and ale houses in Colorado, and distribute their beer to 32 states. Here in Pittsburgh we’re lucky enough to get Breckenridge beer just as fresh as they do in Colorado.

The Never Summer Program
When you think of Colorado the image that most likely comes to your head is one of snowy mountains and skiers and snowboarders flying down said mountains. Breckenridge Brewery is more than aware of this idea and with the help of the aptly named Never Summer Industries, they are once again working together to welcome the winter sports season.

While most of us think baseball when we hear about opening day, the folks at Never Summer Industries think snow. The partnership between Breckenridge and Never Summer Industries celebrated the opening day of winter sports in Colorado starting on November 7th this year, with the celebration going well into December.
For Never Summer’s part they create a custom snowboard featuring the Breckenridge logo and for Breckenridge Brewery’s part they host parties throughout Colorado featuring their great beer. As winter comes it may truly feel that it will never be summer again, but with beer like Breckenridge offers, that might just be ok.

The Beers
When it comes down to it, beer is really what it’s all about, right? And when it comes to Breckenridge Brewery the beer is definitely the star attraction. From year round favorites to seasonal offerings to a mixed 12-pack for those of us that are indecisive; there really is something for everyone at Breckenridge Brewery.

All Year
At the core of any brewery are their year-round offerings. While seasonal wonders are great, without a solid core of great beer the seasonal beers would never see the light of day.

Breck IPA – A great IPA is at the core of any solid beer lineup, and after a scrutiny of ingredients and experimentation with process, Breckenridge Brewery made what they consider a true leader in the IPA world. Breck IPA features a prominent fruity and floral aroma that gives way to a well-balanced taste and body thanks to the choice in malts used in the beer. Unlike many other IPAs, the true secret ingredient in Breck IPA is a rare malt variety that lends the perfect balance to this 6.3% ABV beer.

Avalanche Ale – First brewed in 1988 by founder Richard Squire himself, Avalanche Ale is an amber ale that’s considered the cornerstone of Breckenridge Brewery’s offerings. Brewed using both caramel and pale malts, this beer is balanced out with just enough hops to give the beer the full package. Avalanche Ale comes in at a sessionable 4.4% ABV that finishes smooth and is surprisingly easy to drink.

Vanilla Porter – Dark and malty, this beer has a vanilla character that pairs perfectly with the chocolate and roasted nut flavor that’s balanced perfectly in this beauty of a beer. The chocolate and roasted nut come to this beer via the malts used in this beer, with the vanilla coming all the way from Papua New Guinea and Madagascar. Breckenridge’s Vanilla Porter comes in at 4.7% ABV, making it a great beer year round.

Oatmeal Stout – Bold, smooth, and full of dark-roasted coffee aromas and flavor, Oatmeal Stout by Breckenridge Brewery is, as they say dark in character, not in spirit. Breckenridge uses a spirituous dose of flaked oatmeal to give this beer a creamy body and a semi-dry finish. All total, this 4.9% ABV beer is dark without being overly heavy.

471 IPA – Brewed in small batches to focus on the big flavor, 471 Small Batch IPA from Breckenridge Brewery is an aggressively strong IPA that uses five different malts and four different hop varieties for a depth of flavor and aroma that is far more than the sum of its parts. 471 IPA comes in at a hefty 9.2% ABV that starts with a moderate sweetness up from with a dry bitterness on the finish. If you’re looking for the biggest kid on the block, this is definitely what you’re wanting.

Variety Pack – Is deciding on one single beer too difficult for you? If you’re of the indecisive persuasion, the Rocky Mountain Sampler from Breckenridge Brewery is right for you. The 12-pack sampler features three each of four different beers including the Avalanche Ale, Vanilla Porter, as well as a seasonal beer and one of the Mountain Series of brews, a special lineup of beers from Breckenridge Brewery.

The great things about the seasons are that they’re always changing. Along with the change in weather comes a change in those special beers we get to enjoy each year. As winter closes in we look to the holiday and winter beers to keep us warm on the long, cold winter nights as we all wait for spring to thaw us out.

Christmas Ale – Each year Breckenridge Brewery releases their Christmas Ale to welcome the season in style. This 7.4% ABV beer is full-bodied with a noticeable caramel character that’s backed up with notes of chocolate and just enough bitterness to be present without impacting the amazing holiday flavor. Brewed in the style of a winter warmer, this American Strong Ale is dark and delicious, something you’ll love to drink by the fire on a chilly night.
Other seasonal beers from Breckenridge include their Ophelia Hoppy Wheat, Summerbright Ale, and Autumn Ale, each available in their respective seasons.

Breckenridge Brewery is proudly distributed in and around the Pittsburgh area by Frank Fuhrer Wholesale.

Travel – Gulf Coast Paradise

Icon Written by admin on November 30, 2015 – 10:42 pm

Gulf Coast Paradise
By: Suzanne Ferrara

It’s a hypnotic combination: soft white sand underneath your feet, unspoiled shorelines and clear turquoise waters. If that’s not enough to sweep you off your feet, add breath-taking sunsets, windswept dunes and the sounds of the rolling surf along with the gentle breeze of the clean salty air.

This is paradise on the Alabama Gulf Coast: Gulf Shores and Orange Beach straddles 35 miles of the coastline and offers something for everyone. It is an ecologist’s dream, and at the same time, it’s the place to get top-notch pampering plus endless adventure. Make no mistake: Gulf Shores and Orange Beach form a destination that will instantly melt your cares away.

There is no shortage of places to plant your beach chair and umbrella atop the endless white sand (which, by the way, gets its color from quartz grains). The sand is so soft that it will squeak underneath your feet while, at the same time, you can see it beneath the clear rolling surf only a few feet away.

You can choose to take in the fresh gulf air, peer at the dolphins swimming in the distance, and watch the osprey and gulls fly overhead, and do all of the above from either a private resort beach or from several public beaches.

Before delving into the endless adventures, cuisine and pampering, you will need to choose a place to stay. Lodging choices include resorts, bed and breakfasts, hotels, cottages, and beach houses.

Many choose a resort because they won’t have to leave the property to get everything they need to have a perfect beach vacation. Resorts, also offer beach chairs, umbrella and other outdoor services.

Touted as the most luxurious resort and the jewel on the Alabama coast is Turquoise Place on Orange Beach. This Spectrum Resort property has three to five bedroom condos all with phenomenal features and breath-taking views from every vantage point. The private balconies alone are reason to stay here. Each has a hot tub jacuzzi and outdoor kitchen with a natural gas grill with unparalleled views.

And there’s more! These luxury residences are spacious with the three-bedroom condos measuring 2,300 square feet with 10-foot ceilings and gas fireplaces. Each has floor-to- ceiling windows from which to see the gorgeous vistas. All of them come with fully equipped kitchens with Subzero and Wolf appliances, plus wet bars with wine coolers and high definition flat-screen televisions.

For a splash of fun, head over to the Turquoise Place’s 450-foot heated lazy river and float along the meandering waterway. This resort also boasts five pools and two indoor heated salt water pools with beach and poolside cabanas.

Getting hungry? Change of Pace, an outdoor grill and bar will surely satisfy your appetite with scrumptious dishes and sandwiches. You can also wet your whistle with their signature cocktails and cold beer.

For those seeking serious pampering, there’s a lavish full-service Turquoise Place Spa. You won’t regret a single minute you spend inside this oasis. The Spa’s message therapists are second-to none and you won’t walk out the same person you did when you came through their doors. You can even order a beachside or an in-room massage for one or two.

There’s also a plethora of activities: beachside yoga, line dancing, and canvas painting classes. And yes, there’s plenty of organized, fun entertainment for the kids. Turquoise Place runs kids programs like a well-oiled machine. There are arts and crafts and competitive games for all ages to enjoy.

Just 20 miles away in neighboring Gulf Shores is the Beach Club Resort and Spa, which covers roughly five football fields. This resort continues in its mission to preserve the ecosystem in and around the property; in fact, wooden walkways have been built above the beach to minimize any disturbance around sand dunes. It’s commonplace to see resort employees and guests alike doing all they can to protect sea turtles and the eggs they lay onshore.

The Beach Club and its four towers of fabulous condominiums, boasts five pools, five hot tubs, two restaurants, an ice cream shop and a gift shop. And if that’s not enough to keep you busy, there are also tennis courts, biking, kids camps, playgrounds and a luxurious spa.

There’s no shortage of places near the waves to plant yourself for a day of relaxing, and like Turquoise Place, The Beach Club offers beach chair and umbrella service. After you’ve kicked back a bit and recharged your batteries on the white sand, you can put that stored energy to use with a variety of water activities such as paddle boarding, kayaking, parasailing and jet skiing.

Don’t miss lunch or dinner at the resort’s Coast’s Restaurant, a restaurant where Chef Brody works his magic and serves award-winning (and mouth-watering, naturally) dishes. Coast’s has panoramic waterfront views of the Gulf of Mexico and offers inside and outside dining. For a more casual atmosphere, one chockfull of food and activities, head to the resort’s Village Hideaway for scrumptious grilled dishes and an extensive craft beer selection. Pool tables, shuffleboard, video games (a really cool golf simulator!) and flat screen TVs help give the Hideaway its fun vibe.

The extent of excursions, adventures and things to do here is boundless and readily accessible. There is truly something for everyone in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach from deep sea fishing charters (here you’ll find one of the largest fishing fleets on the gulf coast) to sunset cruises. With the Gulf on one side and several inlets, lakes and bays literally a stone’s throw away, water adventures of every sort rule. There are also beautiful biking trails, amusement parks and eco-tours.

Bring out the naturalist in you! Board a covered golf cart and take a fascinating eco-tour through the pristine woodlands and natural habitats of the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail. Here you can explore the marshes, swamps, and secondary sand dunes. This journey also brings you over the creeks of Gulf State Park.

If that’s not enough exploration, head to the 7,000-acre Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge, one of the most important natural sanctuaries in the country. Maritime forests and coastal marsh provide permanent and temporary homes to millions of spring and fall flying migrants. A hike of the Pine Beach Trail, with trails of varying difficulty, is a must for all members of the family.

You can also choose to discover this ecologist’s dream by kayak or take a boat tour on Oyster Bay, which plays a vital role in the seafood industry. There are numerous outfitters eager to take you on a variety of unforgettable excursions.

To satisfy the thrill seeker in your family head to the Wharf. Hop on the second-tallest ferris wheel in the southeast at the Wharf for an unforgettable view of the sunset. Then, head to The Track and ride the Sky Coaster and the Wild Woody three-tiered go-kart track. There are also bumper boats and miniature golf courses.

After working up an appetite, enjoy a culinary experience at one of several restaurants.
Royal Red Shrimp, caught only in the deep Gulf waters off the Alabama coast, reign supreme at King Neptune’s Seafood Restaurant, and then, there’s LuLu’s at Homeport Marina: this is the place to grab a spoonful or two of their famous seafood gumbo and L.A. (lower Alabama) caviar. Need something to occupy the kids? LuLu’s has the Fountain of Youth (for cooling off) and the Mountain of Youth (a safe, three-story climbing challenge for adventuresome children of all ages). (Tip: Lulu’s serves 4,000 people a day during the summer season so be sure to arrive early because reservations are not accepted.)

Enjoy unbeatable views of Perdido Bay from the expansive indoor and outdoor seating offered at Cobalt’s The Restaurant. This restaurant offers live entertainment as well as a Happy Hour and an unbeatable Sunday brunch. Be sure to try their legendary firecracker shrimp with a spicy remoulade sauce.

One thing is for sure – you won’t be able to get enough of the bliss, relaxation, and adventure that Gulf Shores and Orange Beach has to offer. From the instant your toes touch the soft sand, it becomes clear that there is but one way to describe this beauty – paradise.

For more information go to, and

The British Invade Pittsburgh, or How I Learned to Love Britsburgh

Icon Written by admin on September 3, 2015 – 12:56 pm

The British Invade Pittsburgh, or How I Learned to Love Britsburgh

There was a time that relations between the British and the United States was somewhat…strained. Words were had, taxes were levied, and battles were fought. In any other situation this would mean the two nations involved would pretty much be on bad terms forever. Most nations however aren’t England and the US. After some time to cool off and grow, both countries have developed a relationship that would be surprising under the best of circumstances, and is simply amazing knowing our history.

Pittsburgh seems to love England, so much so that the Steelers even played against the Minnesota Vikings in 2013 in London. As a city that loves its heritage, our connection to Great Britain is quite strong indeed.

It’s this type of connection that is the reason why, for six days in September, Pittsburgh will become Britsburgh. Ok, so our name isn’t officially changing but starting on September 9th the British will definitely be coming with music, food, events, and most importantly British beer. Fuller’s is helping us enjoy Britsburgh by featuring their ESB, London Pride, and London Porter throughout the week. This taste of England is just what we need to get us in the British spirit, so to speak.

The Britsburgh celebration is being organized by the British-America Connections Pittsburgh, a group of individuals who are passionate about the 250-year special relationship that Pittsburgh shares with Great Britain.
God Save The Queen
So why have Britsburgh in September? Well, the start date of Britsburgh is set to coincide with Queen Elizabeth II overtaking Queen Victoria as Great Britain’s longest-reigning monarch. To help the Queen and England celebrate this momentous achievement, Pittsburgh is going Britsburgh.

Queen Elizabeth was born on April 21st, 1926 and came to power on February 6th, 1952. Her coronation service the following year was the first ever to be televised. Along with reigning the longest, the Queen is also the longest-lived British monarch and is the world’s oldest reigning monarch, as well as the longest-reigning female monarch in all of history.
Celebrating With Fuller’s
Speaking of history, it’s no secret that many of the brewing techniques we follow today started in England, and that the English helped us to have the affinity for beer that is stronger than ever today. Fuller’s Brewery is located on the historic Griffin Brewery site in Chiswick, England. Beer has been brewed on this site since the 17th century, and Fuller’s has been making beer at the location since 1845.

The brewery was founded by John Fuller, and was handed down to his son John Bird Fuller, who partnered with Henry Smith and John Turner to grow the business, and making the Fuller Smith & Turner Brewery.

Fast Forward to today, and Fuller’s owns and operated more than 380 pubs, inns, and hotels across the south of England, and makes some of the best authentic British beer to be imported into the US.
Beer School With Fuller’s- BBC at The HYP
What do you get when you combine beer and school? Some might say “college,” and while you’d be mostly right, we’re talking about something a lot less expensive and you graduate in just one night.

On Friday, September 11th join Tony from Vecenie’s Distributing a the Cabaret Theater at Theater Square for a night of beer and education with Fuller’s Brewery. Tony and the folks from Fuller’s will be in attendance to talk all about Fuller’s lineup of authentic imported British beer as well as crack some jokes and simply have a good time. If you haven’t been to one of the beer schools yet, you’re truly missing out. For more information on beer school with Fuller’s, visit
Fuller’s Beer
Brewed since the 1950s, London Pride is, well, the pride of Fuller’s Brewery. This well-rounded beer comes in at a sessionable 4.7% ABV and is a great example of an English Pale Ale. London Pride pours a clear copper color and has both the taste and aroma of a nice bready malt with some nice toffee in the middle. A great, full-bodied beer that’s amazingly easy to drink, London Pride is possibly the best way to celebrate Britsburgh in a bottle or on draft.

If you like your beers extra special, then Fuller’s ESB is just about perfect. This Extra Special Bitter (ESB) comes in at 5.9% ABV and features a sweet caramel malt body with a slight herbal bitterness in the finish. Expect some light toffee, caramel, and even a hint of dried fruit in the aroma, and bread, raisins, and a herbal undertone in the taste. Overall, ESBs are easy to drink and great to pair with a good, meaty dish. Seek out the draft.

It’s the time of year when dark beers are coming back into popularity, and in the Britsburgh spirit, Fuller’s has their London Porter to offer. This 5.4% ABV beer is an award-winning example of the historic English style of beer. Smooth, creamy, and with just enough chocolate and coffee to balance the flavors out, London Porter is exactly the beer you’d expect to order in a classic English pub.

There’s a lot going on throughout the week of Britsburgh Fest, so check out and for all the events on info on how you can celebrate, to.

Look for the official Britsburgh window logo in these participating venues (as of publishing). Stop in have a Fullers and toast the Queen.

Pipers Pub
Patrick’s Pub ( Moon Twp)
Rugger’s Pub
Fox and Hound (North Hills)
New Bentleyville Tavern ( Washington Co.)
Hal’s Bar and Grill (North Hills)
James Street Gastropub
Sharp Edge Penn
Poor Richards Ale House ( Wexford)
House of 1000 Beers ( New Ken)
BRGR ( East End)
Hilton Garden Inn ( Oakland)
The Yard ( Market Sq.)
Diamond Market ( Market SQ.)
D’s Six Pack and Dogs

Fuller’s Brewery is proudly distributed in and around the Pittsburgh area by Vecenie Distributing. Vecenie’s is also a proud sponsor Britsburgh Fest

Getting Crafty With Wyndridge Farm Brewing

Icon Written by admin on September 3, 2015 – 12:54 pm

Getting Crafty With Wyndridge Farm Brewing

Farmhouse breweries are not a new idea. For hundreds of years beer has been brewed on farms throughout the world. These farmhouse breweries are responsible for many amazing styles of beer we love today, and the methods created in barns on farms large and small are mimicked still today. While brewing has come pretty far since those days, the idea of farmhouse breweries is still one that brings up ideas of quality, freshness, and amazing beers.

Few breweries today can call themselves a true farmhouse brewery, but Wyndridge Farm Brewing in Dallastown, PA is one of them. Located in South Central PA, Wyndridge Farm Brewery is home to their lineup of craft ciders and beers. The rustic wood of the brewery stands in stark contrast to the high-tech brewhouse that lives there, reinforcing the idea of traditional farmhouse brewing brought into the modern age.
The Brewery
Wyndridge Farm Brewing opened their doors to the public in 2014, and in that short amount of time they have grown to include a 30 barrel, four vessel automated brewhouse that’s capable of producing 12,000 barrels of beer per year. Not one to be left to kegging beer alone, they also have a bottling line capable of filling 3,000 bottles per hour!

All the brewing equipment in the world won’t do you any good unless you have a team of talented people working on it and behind the scenes to get everything going smoothly. At Wyndridge Farm Brewery this is done by a family of beer and cider experts, even if some of them aren’t related.

On the ownership side you have the Groff family consisting of Steve, Julie, and Taylor, followed by head brewer Stephen Foster and head cider maker Scott Topel. Pete Koelsch rounds out the motley crew with his engineering skills to keep everything working as expected. Together they make some of the best beer and cider to come out of the area, and are all extremely glad to finally be sharing it with us in Pittsburgh.
Crafty Beers
When it comes down to it a brewery is generally judged by the quality of their beer. Thankfully, Wyndridge has a solid lineup of beers to go along with their great story and prepossessing location.

10 Point Ale – This golden ale is an easy drinking, refreshing sessionable beer that’s extremely approachable for those just getting into craft beer. 10 Point Ale is available year round and while it’s approachable and easy to drink, it remains unique enough for craft beer veterans to enjoy over and over again, too.

Wyndridge uses American 2 row, caramel, and Munich malts for the base of this beer and relies on Perle hops for the bittering and aroma. 10 Point Ale comes in at 4.8% ABV with an IBU rating of 20.

Laughing Crow IPA – The ubiquitous India Pale Ale is easily the most popular style of craft beer today, and Wyndridge Brewing’s Laughing Crow IPA is a shining example. Laughing Crow uses a hefty late addition hopping to give the beer tons of hop aroma without making the beer too bitter.

Laughing Crow also relies on local water with a high mineral content to give the beer a crisp taste and dry finish so there’s no cloying sweetness hiding in the background. The malt bill for Laughing Crow includes 2-row, Vienna, and Aromatic malts, but the hop bill is where this beer truly shines. Wyndridge uses Zythos, Falconers Flight, Cascade, Belma, Chinook, and Galena hops to craft a beer that has tropical fruit and citrus notes with a refreshing bitterness that’s far from overpowering. Laughing Crow IPA comes in at 6.5% ABV and a respectable 40 IBU.

Barn Dog Chocolate Vanilla Imperial Porter – The porter style of beer is a unique one that’s come in and out of popularity for more than 100 years, and is seeing a resurgence today as brewers add new and interesting flavor profiles to this classic style.

Wyndridge Brewing’s Barndog Porter features fresh cut vanilla beats and cacao nibs from Ghana to give the porter a complex yet approachable taste that truly does the porter style justice. The vanilla is very present on the nose, with the middle and finish dominated by silky smooth dark chocolate notes.

Barn Dog features a malt bill consisting of 2 row, chocolate, Crafa III, caramel, and flaked barley along with a top-secret hop bill that gives the beer a bitterness that’s present but far from dominating. Barn Dog comes in at 7% ABV and 24 IBU.
Crafty Ciders
Craft ciders are the single fastest growing segment in adult beverages, making them a pretty hot commodity. With mass-produced ciders flooding the market, it can be difficult to find a cider that’s crafted with care by a family-owned brewery. Wyndridge offers a lineup of ciders for every palate out there, even the die-hard IPA fan that might not initially try a cider.

Dry-Hopped Hard Apple Cider – If hops are your thing, the Wyndridge’s Hopped Hard Apple Cider is for you. Their hopped cider is a blend of crisp apples and bitter hops that works surprisingly well together.

Wyndridge uses locally pressed apples, yeast, and hops to make their cider a truly local treat. The result of this blending of hops and apples is a fresh, clean hopped cider that’s semisweet at 5.5% ABV.

Cranberry Hard Cider – If tartness is your thing, then Wyndridge’s Cranberry Hard Cider is just for you. This cider starts with their base cider with a splash of fresh cranberry juice added. The light tartness of the cranberry offsets and compliments the sweetness of the apples. Cranberry Hard Cider is a year-round cider that’s 5.5% ABV.

Original Hard Cider – You always remember your first, and for Wyndridge their Original Hard Cider is their first offering to be sold. This cider is fermented with champagne yeast to give it a dry finish while keeping enough sweetness to make it refreshing and light.

Original Hard Cider is 5.5% ABV and is always made from freshly-pressed apples that are sourced locally, never from concentrate. Drink this cider chilled, but forego the ice, you’ll be glad you did.

Wyndridge Farm Brewing’s beers and ciders are proudly distributed by Frank B Fuhrer Wholesale in and around the Pittsburgh Area

Amelia Island, Florida

Icon Written by admin on August 4, 2015 – 6:56 pm

Amelia Island, Florida..

For tourist information and planning:

Get in on a great vacation secret island.  Set in the Sea Island chain, this barrier island was Florida’s first luxury tourist destination and it is still winning awards (and hearts) today. Named among the Top 10 North American islands by Conde Nast Traveler’s Reader’s Choice Awards for seven consecutive years and recognized as a Top 25 Island in the World, Amelia Island is treasured for its long stretches of quiet beaches, natural beauty, unique history, and charming seaport character. Choose from golf, spa, dining, shopping, and a range of outdoor activities – or simply let relaxation take its course and enjoy time with loved ones. Lose yourself on Amelia Island and make memories.

Amelia Island is chock-full of historical lore: Over the past 400 years, Amelia’s been the conquest of eight different provinces, including France, Spain, Mexico, and the U.S. All of that hand-changing made it a haven for pirates who, according to legend, stashed their booty all over the island. It’s also the birthplace of the commercial shrimping industry—much of Florida’s white shrimp is caught right off the island’s coast—and the production of handmade shrimping nets still takes place there.

While on Amelia Island be sure and explore Centre Street. Once a vibrant, Victorian age, charming downtown, Fernandina Beach escaped the mass commercialization of the 20th century and boasts a beautiful 50-block historic district with many original structures dating back to the late 19th century, including many Victorian-style mansions and Victorian cottages. Take a stroll through the heart of Amelia Island’s shopping district, historic Centre Street. Visit the numerous boutiques and unique shops along the streets, it will take you back in time and you will feel like you have been transported to another era.  The shops are all very uniquely different and host a wide variety of merchandise; you won’t find duplicate merchandise in these little independent shops, each shop is extremely unique and different.  We were really impressed with the selection and pricing, something for everyone, all very unique and totally different.  Really enjoyed the shopping!

Marriott Residence Inn

2301 Sadler Road, Fernandina Beach, FL 32034
Phone: 904-601-3405

Nightwire was hosted by this gorgeous property which is one of Amelia Island’s newest treasures – “Marriott Platinum Award Winning!”  Residence Inn – Amelia Island.  They are conveniently located walking distance from the beach and just a short distance from all of the island’s treasures – great restaurants, local businesses, area attractions, and the best that nature has to offer.   Whether you are on the island for business or the vacation that your family has been dreaming of, the Residence Inn is the hotel to meet all your needs.

They offer spacious studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom suites.  All suites have full kitchens, HDTV with a large selection of channels, complimentary high speed Internet connections, access to our FREE island shuttle, and many more treasures to be found.  Plus they offer a daily complimentary hot breakfast each morning.  You will find this a great place to relax and unwind after a productive day of working or beach combing next to their outdoor pool and hot tub or enjoy a glass of wine with family and friends next to the fire pit!  Bike rentals are available at the Front Desk or you can explore onsite Egans Creek Greenway, a part of the Great Florida Birding Trail with miles of fauna and flora to discover!

The property can easily accommodate meetings and social functions of up to 50 guests in the David Levy Yulee Meeting Room, and their outdoor venue, the Tides Terrace, will add a refreshing sea breeze to your special event. For more information, please contact their Sales Department at 904-277-2440.  They specialize in creating memorable moments for corporate and social groups alike.  Their well-trained staff of experienced specialists will make your trip to Amelia Island a memorable experience.

Fairbanks House – Bed and Breakfast

227 South 7th Street, Amelia Island, FL 32034
Phone: 904-479-4814 or (888) 891-9882


Twitter – @fairbankshouse

Facebook – Fairbanks House Bed and Breakfast

The Fairbanks House on Amelia Island has been awarded membership in Select Registry for 15 consecutive years and named to Conde Nast’s Gold List.  They have been featured in publications such as The Best Romantic Escapes in Florida, Fodor’s, Frommer’s, Southern Living, Atlanta Journal, Miami Herald, Boston Globe and New York Times and now Nightwire!

Fairbanks House features an 8000 square foot 1885 Italianate villa and three cottages.  Located in the historic district of Fernandina Beach, Fairbanks House is an easy bike ride to 13 miles of pristine beach. The mansion, cottages and pool all rest on an eco-friendly, landscaped, smoke-free acre featuring native plants, palm trees, large oaks and a butterfly garden.  This inn caters to adults.  Owners, Theresa and Bill Hamilton aims to please and genuinely welcome each and every guest, making you feel at home and like family.

The Fairbanks House sits on one manicured acre, the four-story Italianate-style villa is graced with dormers, bay windows, massive chimneys and balustrade balconies and porches and a fifteen-foot tower. Each of the twelve guest rooms, suites, and cottages offers magnificent splendor, superior comfort, and private baths. Guests will find queen and king size, canopy or four-poster beds, fireplaces and luxurious bathrooms with choice of Jacuzzis, claw-foot tub, or shower. The rooms are appointed with antiques, oriental rugs, and period pieces to create a special sanctuary for every guest. Cable television and telephones are provided in each room. Guests may also choose to enjoy the genteel country charm of one of the three cottages.

Breakfast at the Fairbanks House, is truly a treat and inviting with the scent of cinnamon orange pecan French toast topped with a caramel topping making its way through the mansion. The smell alone that will entice you out of our comfy beds each morning.  Theresa’s Gourmet breakfasts are fabulous, their presentation and quality of fresh fruits and ingredients are incredible.  Breakfast is served in their grand formal dining room or out on the breezy piazzas by the pool garden where you’ll definitely want to linger. This place is almost paradise on earth, we absolutely loved it!

Fairbanks House also offers complimentary bikes, wifi, off-street parking, beach equipment (chairs, umbrellas, towels and even a backpack to carry your things in) docking stations, games and reading materials are always available. Every evening they serve complimentary drinks and delicious homemade hors d’oeuvres.  In addition to all these great amenities, they add a very personal touch by making recommendations and reservations which will make your trip an amazing Amelia Island rock star experience. Oh, and I must mention the fresh homemade gourmet cookies left on the entry table every evening for you to enjoy at the end of your evening. What a great and delicious touch!  Thank you Theresa!

Bill and Theresa, the owners of Fairbanks House have been “green” since well before it became fashionable.  They go to great lengths to make sure that their practices are in keeping with what’s best for the environment without sacrificing an ounce of pampering for their guests. They recently added two electric car charging stations featuring both Tesla and universal chargers.

Once you’ve arrived, you will lose yourself in the beauty and elegance of this property as well as the hospitality of the owners, you just won’t want to leave. Can’t wait to go back!

Joe’s 2nd Street Bistro

14 S 2nd Street

Fernandina Beach, FL 32034

(904) 321-2558

Located in the heart of the Fernandina Beach historic district.  This property is a restored 1900s home that’s filled with flavor.

The island-inspired dining room is amazing and upstairs is a private dining room, but we suggest grabbing a table out on the covered porch. A meal here is almost like eating in a chef’s home, a quaint and delectable experience, to say the least.

Try the grilled leg of lamb rubbed with black pepper, garlic, and herbs and served with tomato mint salsa, potatoes, and “cotton fried onions.” Shrimp is Amelia Island’s claim to fame, and rightfully so. It was the birthplace of the modern shrimping industry and where even now a good 80 percent of Florida’s sweet Atlantic white shrimp is harvested. Each year Amelia Island proudly hosts a shrimp fest.. which I’ve been told is something you must experience.

Joe’s serves local fresh seafood that they purchase daily.  We highly recommended all of their seafood dishes which are original recipes and amazingly delicious, you can tell they take great pride and care in the preparation of each and every meal.  For those of you that like landlubbers fare, we recommend  the tenderloin of pork.  Grilled to perfection and served with a smoked peach barbeque sauce. One of our favorites was called “Sweet Potato Hay.”  Sweet potatoes very finely shredded and served crisp.  Even if you are not a big lover of sweet potatoes, this dish is one that might just change your mind.  Plus, the steaks, we had a filet and I must say, it was one of the best filets I have ever had.

Joe’s offers a wide variety of expertly freshly prepared menu choices including seafood, steak, pasta and game. The food is fabulous, their wine selection, atmosphere and attentive staff will make this one of your favorite places. Be sure and try one of their delicious homemade desserts.. to die for! After a meal at Joe’s order dessert to go, you’ll be glad you did!

Don’t miss it. You simply have to ……Eat at Joe’s.

Kayak Tour with Kayak Amelia

13030 Heckscher Dr, Jacksonville, FL 32226

Phone:(904) 251-0016

Kayaking is a great way to get out and explore the waterways between the Atlantic Ocean and Jacksonville. The staff was extremely friendly and the equipment was in excellent condition. They have a generous parking lot and the entire facility was inviting.  We were greeted by their friendly staff, which was well prepared and extremely knowledgeable and helpful in getting us ready for our excursion.

We paddled our way through Fort George/Simpson Creek estuary, a series of tributaries that wind through the salt marsh, creating what looks like the arteries of the land. The water twists and turns creating intimate canals for the resident wading birds, fishing osprey, and provides protection for newly hatched fingerlings. The estuary is a fascinating environment, the lifeblood of the ocean, and the nursery ground for most of the life in the sea.

Along our travels we saw tons of birds and fish flying through the air around us. We found a number of great stops where we pulled over to rest and captured some great photos.  For the beginner or experience kayaker this was a great experience that we definitely highly recommend.  It was so much fun and our guides were awesome.  Thank you to everyone for making this experience so memorable.


22 S. 4th Street

Fernandina Beach, FL 32034

(904) 261-7700

Españas specializes in traditional flavors from Spain & Portugal.  They have a menu of more than 10 tapas dishes, both hot and cold, and a variety of extravagant salads and main course options.  We sampled five of the tapas and each one was more delicious and enjoyable that the other each in its own very unique way. One was hot, one was spicy, one was rich and smooth all different and so beautifully presented and scrumptious.  The bread was unexpectedly sweet and it so nicely accompanied the variety of dishes. I have to tell you.. I loved the olive oil/aoli dipping sauce for the bread.

They also serve authentic paellas , Spain’s most traditional dish.  Their paellas are cooked in a traditional Paella pan; a shallow flat pan with two handles, made in and imported from Spain. They start with extra virgin olive oil, saffron and a “sofrito”, which is the combination of garlic, onion, peppers and tomato. Next, they add seasoned meats, homemade stock and rice which are cooked together until the rice soaks up the delicate flavors of the stock. Once the rice is cooked, they garnish the paella with diced roasted peppers, English peas and fresh cilantro. You will enjoy and savor every single bite!!! This is a not to be missed authentic Spanish dish.

The owners, Roberto and Marina have over 20 year’s restaurant experience in both culinary arts and management. They take great pride in their original recipes, taking travels to Spain and bringing those authentic flavors to your table. They utilize only the freshest fish, shellfish, herbs (some grown on premises) and spices for our paellas.

Other menu highlights include varied hot and cold tapas, steaks, and homemade desserts. Accompany your meal with a fine wine from their Select Wine List or try their homemade sangria.  The staff will do everything possible to make your evening a memorable one.

The service was excellent; the wait staff extremely attentive and knowledgeable.  You can definitely tell the owners take great pride in their restaurant and it shows by the quality of food and their paying attention to every detail. Highly recommend this restaurant.  Trust us, you’ll love it!


4924 First Coast Highway, Suite 10
Fernandina Beach, FL 32034

(904) 310-6620

Bar Zin… neighborhood bistro offers guests a diverse menu of wines, local brews and Saki martinis. BarZin has a relaxed, upbeat atmosphere, and offers indoor and outdoor dining options with fresh made daily food offerings.

The original concept for ZinBar was that it was going to be a wine bar with a tapas food menu.  Once owner, Tim Seyda discovered the Palmetto Walk site, that all changed. The location set up perfectly for a quaint little neighborhood American bistro which meant the food menu would take top billing and the wine bar would be an extension of the restaurant. The wine selection is probably the best on Amelia Island.

Guests truly feel comfortable just stopping in for a glass of wine, eating a small snack or having a complete dining experience. Zin Bar is a great neighborhood bar.

Their lunch menu offers great salads, sandwiches, burgers and grilled tacos. All are made fresh daily from the freshest and highest quality ingredients.  Their dinner menu includes fresh seafood, salads, burgers and a variety of options, definitely something delicious and skillfully prepared by their chef for everyone.

Tim Seyda, owner of Zin Bar told us “The concept started over 30 years ago when I was attending the University of Minnesota. During this time I also worked downtown in a high-end classic French restaurant, Les Quatre Amis. After leaving Les Quatre Amis. I opened a 5 diamond regional American restaurant for Amfac Hotel Company. The chef at the French restaurant, Rene Debon, and the G.M., Carlo Bicacci, were my two mentors whether they knew it or not. Rene’s passion and intensity in the kitchen to insure that every dish was perfect has stuck with me over all these years. Carlo’s eye for attention to the smallest detail day after day was also very inspiring. I have brought my own passion and zest for life to Bar Zin with over 30 years of working in the restaurant / hospitality industry.  I am truly grateful that I have the opportunity to share my dream with all of you!”

This is a must stop in and try restaurant for either lunch, dinner or just a glass of wine from their  great wine list or a homemade cocktail.  Simply Zin Delicious!

Stay’N Country Ranch

There is nothing better than horseback riding on the beach, if you have never experience it.. you simply must.  Stay’N Country Ranch does all the work and brings their finely groomed well trained horses to you on the beach at Peter’s Point Beach.  Peter’s Beach is a pristine beach with crystal clear waters and blue skies.  The horses are definitely well taken care of and trained to adapt for any level of rider.  It is a guided beach ride and truly so much fun.

Stay’ N Country Ranch is a family owned and operated ranch just off Amelia Island in Nassau County, Florida. In contrast to the nearby beautiful beaches of Amelia Island, you will find over 43 acres of oak trees, stocked ponds, nature trails, a 20 stall horse barn with 2 indoor arenas, a walk in horse shower, tack lockers, large outdoor arena and a wonderful party barn ready for anything from a birthday party to a rustic wedding. Missy and Schad Freeman have converted a property once used to raise chickens into an equine center that offers not only horse boarding and riding lessons but a variety of activities open to the public. Trail rides are a popular activity in addition to the Children’s Birthday Parties with Wagon & Pony rides. The Party Barn supports a variety of events from weddings- birthday parties-fundraising events and much more.

Don’t miss a great opportunity to ride along the beach and create unforgettable memories.

Amelia River Cruise

1 N Front Street

Fernandina Beach, FL 32034

(904) 261-9972

This Sunset Cruise is an adult BYOB cruise designed especially for adults and is one of the finest ways to end the day or begin the night. The view on the Cumberland Sound can be as spectacular as a legendary Key West sunset. Enjoy a glass of your favorite BYOB beverage and listen to some of Fernandina’s finest local musicians on board. With the wind in your hair and the smell of sweet salt air, you will float away to a tropical paradise where all of your worries disappear and a sense of relaxation and appreciation of nature takes over you.

Amelia Island Museum of History

233 South Third Street
Fernandina Beach, FL 32034
(904) 261-7378

Amelia Island Museum of History, housed in the historic Nassau County jail is a great way to experience the island’s 4,000 years of Florida history. A spoken history tour of the 8 flags that have flown over Amelia Museum tours begin at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Fort Clinch State Park

2601 Atlantic Ave.

Fernandina Beach, FL  32034

(904) 277-7274

Fort Clinch is one of the most well-preserved 19th century forts in the country. Visitors can also sunbathe, swim, and roam self-guided nature trails to discover native plants and wildlife, or explore a six-mile trail through the park with views of the biggest sand dunes in Florida.  To learn more visit their website listed above.

Allegiant Airlines

We flew Allegiant Airlines to Jacksonville for our trip to Amelia Island.  Allegiant Airlines recently started direct flights from Pittsburgh to Jacksonville departing on Mondays and Fridays only. This no frills airline carrier offers flights starting at only $56 one-way.

As with any no frills airlines and for $56, you get what you paid for: They do charge a small online booking fee and there are charges for checked luggage as well as carry-on bags. I was a bit taken back to find that they even charge for water onboard. Sodas and cocktails I understand, but charging for water onboard the aircraft? Now, I know grab a bottle of water in the terminal.  All in all, the planes were clean, the crew friendly and very pleasant, even after the hours of delay they had to endure also, (they do have Pittsburgh based crew, so they are bringing jobs to our city.)

Our Jacksonville flight was delayed for several hours getting out of Pittsburgh (the gate agents did provide us with water and snacks at the gate while we waited.) Our departure delay did slightly impact our plans for arrival day, blew the whole day in the airport, but we rescheduled and all was good. Our motto.. stay calm and carry on, really applied that day. Plus, Bar Symon was just around the corner from our gate and their cocktails, food and friendly service made our delay time fly by. Hey anytime you can get out of Pittsburgh and go to the sun and beach and a fabulous island like Amelia Island…it a win-win no matter how long the wait.

Our return flight was on time, so no issues there.  Remember, delays happen with any airlines, so be patient.  If you are looking for a low cost budget carrier, check out Allegiant, it’s $56 – you can’t go anywhere for $56, but Allegiant will fly you to Florida for $56, so give them a try.  They also offer non-stop flights to Myrtle Beach, Tampa/Clearwater and St. Pete and Punta Gorda and flights from Youngstown Airport for other destination choices.

The reviews online of this airline have not been good they are currently averaging 3 out of 10 stars, however my personal feeling is that only those passengers that are unhappy are writing reviews and those that are happy are just going on their merry way and not sharing their good experiences, why is it we always seem to focus on the bad, not the good?  So, come on Pittsburgh, if you are on a budget or just looking to save money, I would definitely try Allegiant Airlines.  After all, they have direct flights and are giving Pittsburgh a chance, bringing in new jobs and revenue….. how about we give them a chance?

Would Nightwire fly Allegiant Airlines again?  I’d give that a definite, YES if for no other reason than to report back to you, my dear readers and tell you what a great flight we had at such a bargain fare!  Check out Allegiant Air flight schedules and deals at


Stoudts Brewing Company

Icon Written by admin on June 26, 2015 – 2:58 pm

Stoudts Brewing Company

The year is 1987. You can buy the top-selling Ford Escort for
$6,800, the world’s population reaches 5 billion, Fox becomes
its own TV channel, and here in Pennsylvania, the first microbrewery
since prohibition opens its doors. While 1987 had a
lot of good times, the biggest event for us was by far Stoudts
Brewing Co. selling its first beer (which happened to be the
Gold Lager, still offered today) and starting a tradition that’s still
going strong today, nearly 30 years later.
Founded by Carol Stoudt, who also happens to be the first
female brewmaster in the US since prohibition, Stoudts has
made amazing beer since the time when craft beer wasn’t a
phrase anyone knew. Stoudts Brewing Co. is located in rural
Lancaster County and currently offers around 20 different beers
throughout the year, brewing approximately 10,000 barrels of
beer each year.
Today, Stoudts Brewing Co. is owned by Ed and Carol Stoudt,
and Brett Kintzer has taken over as the head brewer. Stoudts
is a true family brewery that offers some amazing beers and a
dedication to the craft that’s hard to match.
Year-Round Beers
The cornerstone of any good craft brewery is their year-round
beers. These are the beers that breweries are known for and
support the weird and wild beers made throughout the rest of
the year. For Stoudts, the lineup of year-round beers includes
four different beers, two of which have won multiple Great
American Beer Festival medals.
American Pale Ale
While APA is a style of beer, Stoudts makes their American
Pale Ale unique thanks to generous additions of Warrior and
Cascade hops. American Pale Ale has been the best-selling
Stoudts beer for ten years running, and for good reason. At
5.1% ABV and with a crisp, medium body, American Pale Ale
is everything you’d want in an APA and more. The best thing
about Stoudts APA? It’s even available in cans, so you can take
it anywhere and have your beer protected from light and the
forces of evil*.
American Pale Ale pairs perfectly with grilled beef, marinated
meat, and is exactly the right beer for anything spicy.
*Protection against the forces of evil might be an exaggeration,
but definitely from light, air, and best of all, cans are way better
to recycle!
Scarlett Lady ESB
Named after a red haired mind reader…wait, that’s ESP…ok,
scratch that. Named after the reddish copper color this beer
has, Scarlet Lady is an English-style extra special bitter (ESB)
that’s rich, malty, and full of hop aroma and taste.
Scarlet Lady comes in at 4.8% ABV and pairs well with grilled
or smoked salmon. If white meat is more your thing, then you’ll
love this beer with ham and marinated pork loin, too.
Pils German Style Pilsner
The Germans know their beer, and specifically Pilsners are a
specialty in the land of Oktoberfest. Pils from Stoudts Brewing
is brewed in the style of a traditional German-style Pilsner that
has a delicate dry taste that’s followed up with a firm bitterness.
Like any respectable German-style Pilsner, Pils is a brilliant
straw yellow with a medium body and the ever-noticeable noble
hop aroma. Pils is 5.4% ABV, and is so good that Men’s Journal
voted it #3 for their best beer in America. You don’t have to
take my word for it either, as Pils has won 3 gold, a silver, and a
bronze medal at the Great American Beer Fest. Pils is the other
beer from Stoudts that’s available in the can, making it perfect
for concerts, the beach, and space travel*!
Pils pairs wonderfully with seafood, chicken, and for the more
adventurous eaters, it’s a perfect compliment for calamari.
*Ok, maybe space travel is going a little too far, but some beer
will be the first one in space, so why not Stoudts Pils?
Gold Lager
This is where it all started. The first beer brewed and sold by
Stoudts Brewing back in 1987, Gold Lager is a Munich-Style
helles lager that’s been called one of the finest German-style
beers brewed in America. Golden in color, Gold is brewed with
a 2-row base malt along with three different types of specialty
malts. With a healthy dose of noble hops to balance things
out, Gold is smooth, balanced, and exactly what you want in a
Munich-style lager.
Gold Lager comes in at 4.7% ABV and has won a gold, three
silvers, and a bronze medal from the Great American Beer Festival
as well as a World Beer Cup medal.
July 2015 • 13
Gold Lager pairs well with roasted chicken and fish, and can
even pair nicely with sharp cheese and traditional German
Fourplay IPA
The newest member of the year-round lineup, Fourplay is
an American IPA that’s full-bodied and chock full o’ hops.
This beer’s hop character is thanks to Apollo hops that lend
a citrus and resinous character to the beer as well as a super
secret, eyes only clearance, black ops hop variety 06300*.
This experimental hop gives Fourplay orange, chocolate, and
even some coconut character. This is a beer that needs to be
tried to be believed.
*About that black ops thing, I might be exaggerating there
a little bit too, but this is one interesting hop even if it’s not
grown in a CIA safehouse…that we know of!
Big Beers
Year round beers are great, but it’s the specialty beers that
bring out the interesting side of a brewery. Each of the beers
in Stoudts’ Big Beers lineup are at least 7% ABV, topping out
at a huge 10% ABV.
Double IPA
Stoudts Double IPA is, as the name suggests, a big double
India Pale Ale. Coming in at 10% ABV and a whopping 90
IBUs, this beer is strong and full bodied, bringing with it some
pretty intense hop characteristics thanks to multiple kettle
hop additions and a very generous dry hopping.
Fat Dog
While this might be a little more than your typical oatmeal
you have for breakfast, Stoudts Fat Dog is an imperial oatmeal
stout that tips the scales at 9% ABV. Fat Dog combines
the smooth character of an oatmeal stout with the hoppiness
and alcohol you’d expect from an imperial stout. Fat Dog is
big, dark, with a roasted malt body and a coffee-like finish.
The Belgians know a thing or two about beer. One of their
greatest inventions is the Belgian Triple. Stoudts version of
this Belgian wonder is strong and full-bodied, coming in at
9% ABV. This specially-brewed beer has a spicy, phenolic
flavor with some fruitiness that makes the overall taste complex
yet extremely enjoyable. Triple has a warm alcohol finish
that balances out the inherent sweetness of the Belgian Tripel
Smooth Hoperator
Sticking with what they know best, Stoudts brewed Smooth
Hoperator to be a strong lager that has a delicate malty body
that, while present up front, is quickly overtaken by a strong
hop profile. Each barrel of Smooth Hoperator has 1.5 pounds
of hops added to it, giving Smooth Hoperator both hop aroma
and taste that’s hard to beat.
Seasonal Beers
Along with their year-round offerings and their big beers,
Stoudts also has a full lineup of seasonal beers, too. These
beers are brewed specifically for their own seasons and represent
the style most commonly associated with that time of the
Karnival Kolsch
A perfect springtime beer if there ever was one, Karnival
Kolsch is a German style ale that’s brewed using 2-row malt
along with some red wheat malt to give Karnival a great malt
backbone. On top of this sits German hops that give the beer
both aroma and flavor. While this beer comes off like a lager,
it’s all ale.
Karnival Kolsch comes out in February each year and should
be available into the beginning of summer, and is 4.8% ABV.
Hefe Wheat
Hefeweizens (German wheat beers) are one of the most
refreshing beers possible for hot summer days. Stoudts version
of this classic is brewed with half wheat and half malted
barley to give the beer a special body that you can’t find
anywhere else. Like other hefeweizens, Hefe has aromas and
tastes that harken ideas of bananas and cloves.
Hefe is 5% ABV, and is available starting in May and should
stick around throughout the summer months.
What do you get when you make a beer that has a strong
malt body, is amber in color, and has a floral yet not overwhelming
hop aroma? Other than simply an amazing beer,
what you also get is Oktoberfest from Stoudts. Brewed in the
traditional German fashion, This beer, which is 4.5% ABV, has
won 5 medals at GABF, and is available starting in August
through the fall months.
Revel Red
Wrapping up the seasonal offerings from Stoudts, Revel
Red is a deep amber colored beer that has pungent (in a
good way) hop profile that hints at citrus and dankness that is
Revel Red comes in at 6.2% ABV and is available starting in
November and stretches through the winter months.
Stoudts Brewing Company is proudly distributed in the Pittsburgh
area by Vecenie Wholesale.
14 •

Anchor Brewing Company – 07-2015

Icon Written by admin on June 26, 2015 – 2:56 pm

Anchor Brewing Company

The craft beer movement as we know it today started around
1988 with breweries like Rogue Brewing Co. and Great Lakes
Brewing Co. starting small in a world that didn’t know what craft
beer was. For that matter, neither did the new, small breweries.

All they knew was that they wanted to make the best beer
around and not compromise for anything.

Let’s jump back in history from 1988, to the year 1871. It was
in this year that German immigrant Gottlieb Brekle purchased
a beer and billiards saloon and opened a brewery on Pacific
Street in San Francisco. It wasn’t until 1896 however that the
brewery was renamed Anchor Brewing by Ernst Baruth and his
son-in-law Otto Schinkel. Nobody’s quite sure where the name
Anchor came from, but it’s widely accepted that it was meant to
be a tie-in with the booming Port of San Francisco.
A series of unfortunate events hit Anchor Brewing, including
the death of Ernst Baruth, the devastating earthquake and fire
of 1907, and of course Prohibition in 1920. Between the repeal
of Prohibition in 1933 and 1965 Anchor Brewing saw its share of
change, but in 1965 a new era started at Anchor, known as the
Maytag Era.

It was in 1965 that Fritz Maytag, upon hearing of the planned
final closing of the storied brewery that he loved, decided to
purchase a majority stake in the brewery in an attempt to keep
the doors open and improve on the beer Anchor brewed.
In 1971, 100 years after Gottlieb founded the original brewery
on Pacific, Fritz Maytag started brewing what would become
the most recognizable beer produced by Anchor still today:
Anchor Steam Beer. Even though nobody knew what a microbrewery
or craft beer was at the time, it was pretty evident that
Fritz and Anchor were on to something pretty amazing, and
were leading a revolution in brewing that was far from the light
lagers that were popular at the time.

Jump ahead to 1984 and Anchor Brewing releases the first
wheat beer produced in the United States since Prohibition
to celebrate their 5th anniversary. Jump ahead even further to
1993 and we find another first for Anchor with the opening of
their in-house distillery at the brewery; a first of its kind in the

Today Anchor Brewing Co. is one of the most traditional breweries
in the United States, producing one of the few remaining
versions of the California Common, also known as Steam Beer.
Anchor’s beers are still brewed in handmade copper vessels in
their San Francisco brew house with the same level of care that
Fritz Maytag brought to Anchor nearly 50 years ago.

Year Round Beers
Anchor Steam
The beer that started it all for Anchor, Steam takes its name
from a nickname beers brewed on the west coast in the 19th
century were given thanks to the lack of ice during brewing and
the often warm conditions they were brewed in. Much like the
name of the brewery itself, the actual source of the Steam nickname
isn’t clear, but it’s believed that it comes from the cooling
of fermenting beer on San Francisco rooftops by the cool night
air, creating a steam that rose from the warm beer.
Steam was at one time a nickname for all beer coming from
the West Coast, but today it’s a trademark of Anchor Brewing
Company and only applies to this great beer.
Anchor Steam Beer is a 4.9% ale that smells of rich, semisweet
malt with a bready, biscuity aroma paired with a slight
hint of citrus. The taste can be described as slight caramel with
a touch of citrus and the same buscuity malt character found in
the aroma.

Overall Anchor Steam Beer is a great, easy-drinking beer that
is well balanced, not too bitter, and has more than enough flavor
to never be considered boring or overdone.

Starting in 1849 the hoppy and delicious IPAs from England
started making their way to the West Coast by way of San Francisco
and while the gold rushers loved the refreshing bitter beer,
it wasn’t until 1975 that Anchor started the tried and true act of
only a year old, but off to a great start. Anchor IPA is 6.5%
ABV and offers a great West Coast hop kick while keeping the
malt profile nice and balanced.

California Lager
Anchor’s California Lager was first brewed in 2012, but its
roots go all the way back to the beginning of the brewery and
the Gold Rush. Made after California’s first genuine lager,
brewed by Boca Brewing in 1876, Anchor’s version is a recreation
of this historic beer.

While Anchor’s version isn’t cooled in a mountain ice pond
like Boca’s version was, it’s still a true to the original version
that will surprise you.

The first thing you’ll notice with this beer is the aroma, which
is extremely floral, with some hop character showing through.
The taste features crisp citrus notes with a strong, yet very
drinkable bitterness that moves to the grassy, earthy category.
California Lager has a dry finish that leaves a slight yeasty
taste that is not unpleasant. California Lager is an excellent
version of an American Pale Lager that has enough character
to stand on its own, while still perfect for pairing with a variety
of foods.

Liberty Ale
Liberty Ale was first brewed on April 18th, 1975 to celebrate
the 200th anniversary of Paul Revere’s historic midnight ride,
and it’s still being made today. Liberty Ale is a 5.9% ABV ale
that’s made with whole cone hops and is also dry hopped to
create a delicate yet satisfying taste that makes this American
IPA surprisingly easy to drink.

The aroma of Liberty Ale features citrus in the forefront with
some bready, yeasty characteristics in the background. The
taste can be described as having pear and grapefruit present
with a balance of malt and bitterness. Liberty Ale is naturally
carbonated, which gives the beer a unique higher than normal
fizziness and unique mouthfeel.
Craft Originals Variety Pack
Can’t decide on what beer to get? Check out the Craft Originals
Variety Pack. In it, you’ll get Anchor Steam Beer, Anchor
Porter, Liberty Ale, and Summer Wheat.

Seasonal Beers
Along with the year-round beers offered by Anchor, they
also offer a seasonal beer for each time of the year.
Spring Saison – This beer is light, fresh, and spicy. Coming
in at 7.2% it has a little kick to match up with the spiciness
of a true Belgian saison.

Summer Wheat – The currently in-season seasonal, Summer
Wheat is perfect in the can or bottle and is easily one
of the most refreshing beers offered by Anchor. A wheat
beer that comes in at 4.5% ABV, it’s light, fresh, and just
what you need for a hot summer day.

Autumn Red Ale
When fall rolls around the calendar again, slightly darker
and maltier beers are just what we need to stay warm.
Autumn Red Ale from Anchor is a 6% ABV red ale that first
saw the light of day in 2013. Malty with a nice hop profile,
Autumn Red is meant for the fall.

Christmas Ale
The tried and true Anchor Christmas ale is a great yet mysterious
winter ale. Each year there’s a new tree on the label
and a new beer in the bottle. Nobody but the brewer knows
exactly what the beer will be each year, but it’s a pretty safe
bet that it’ll be great.

Winter Wheat (new)
The newest of the seasonal beers offered by Anchor, Winter
Wheat is a dark wheat beer that comes in at 7%. Made for
cold winter months, Winter Wheat is malty with hops present
in the background. This beer is earthy, woody, and perfectly
what you need to warm up on a cold night.

Anchor Brewing Co. is proudly distributed by rank B. Fuhrer
Wholesale throughout the Pittsburgh area.

Gaucho Parrilla Argentina

Icon Written by admin on June 26, 2015 – 2:50 pm

By SuperMonkey
Hands down my new favorite place to eat is Gaucho Parrilla Argentina located in the Strip directly on the corner next to the 16th Street Bridge at 1607 Penn Avenue. Originally opening next door in 2013, in a very small space, (originally a small kitchen with a counter for taking orders, a couple bar stools, and some places to sit outside, weather permitting.) With the huge success of this small little restaurant, Anthony Falcon, Head Chef and Owner decided to double down in life and move into a newly renovated beautiful location, right next door. The restaurant is now double the size of its original dining room and includes more countertop seating as well as tables and chairs in the front and back dining rooms. Gaucho plans on adding a lounge in the back of the building once it secures a liquor license. For now, its BYOB with no corkage charge.
Gaucho has continually received rave reviews from food critics and foodies, which has built them an extremely loyal customer base. Yelp just recently named Gaucho Parrilla Argentia, Pittsburgh as one of the Top 100 Best Places to Eat in the U.S. and placed Gaucho in the Top Ten ranking them at Number 7 in the whole country. Congratulations for this well-deserved honor.

If you have not been to Gaucho then you need to get with the program and find out what you’ve been missing! Unless of course, you have something against the most succulent, tender, juicy, flavorful, wood fired meat in Pittsburgh. Then stay home, more delicious meat and delectable offerings for the rest of us. I’m just kidding, of course! Gaucho isn’t just meat; they offer something for everyone with grilled veggies, chicken, seafood, fish, salads and so much more. Plus, most menu entrees come with sides and are offered in sizes, small and large.
My favorite item on the menu is definitely the Bandiola Con Pan Pork Sandwich (I’ve tried to try other things when I’m ordering, but it’s so good it just begs to be ordered again and again.) Let’s start with the bread. Fire-toasted Ciabatta bread, just crispy enough to have that great sandwich crunch, and gets a little soft and stays crispy while soaking up all the delicious juice. You know you love it the savory taste of meat juices and it would be such a shame to waste them. Bandiola Con Pan is slow wood fired pork shoulder roasted with onions, carrots, and celery until it is literally so tender it falls apart. This tender, juicy succulent pork shoulder is piled high and then they add a nice layer of spicy Dijon mustard and caramelized onions. When you bite into it, it’s a flavor explosion of everything that makes Gaucho so successful. You can taste the passion in Anthony’s culinary art and this guy is a Culinary Rock Star. Creating a great menu is like creating a great piece of art. When you are passionate about something, it shows. You can tell that Anthony has put his heart and soul into Gaucho because his food is art you can eat. Absolute perfection! I have to tell you about the Mona Lisa of meat. The Gaucho Steak Burger. It’s not really a burger per say, but more a mountain of juicy, tender, perfectly seasoned wood grilled chopped steak. You get to pick two toppings for your 100% beef patty like provolone, bacon, asparagus, or mushrooms. It’s now my new favorite thing to eat at Gaucho. It used to be the Bandiola Pork Sandwich but after sampling the Gaucho Steak Burger I have to say this might be the best burger in Pittsburgh. I really don’t even eat burgers; however, I can really crush a Gaucho Steak Burger on command. That’s how seriously good it is.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention some of the other menu items, like the Camarones, (shrimp). Gaucho uses white tiger shrimp and grills them on a cast iron skillet with olive oil, fresh rosemary, salt, pepper, and grilled lemon. They smell as delicious as they taste. Don’t waste your time trying to go to the market, clean the shrimp, prepping to try and replicate this amazing dish, just go to Gaucho for shrimp that will make you come back for more.. Perfection, that’s Gaucho’s secret.

Gaucho also offers delectable sides like Gaucho Papas, or roasted potatoes ($3) it’s the right side dish to accompany any of their great meals. Papas are roasted with a blend of fresh rosemary, thyme, garlic, salt, pepper, and paprika. These same potatoes make up the Papas Cuna (Ku-na) which is an Argentinian style potato salad. It’s mixed with fresh oregano, feta, mayo, and pickled red onion. Served chilled, it’s a definite must try side. Other sides include, saffron yellow rice ($3), maiz (roasted corn on the cob, $2), grilled vegetables (zucchini, peppers, onions, tomatoes, portobello and grass ($7 small – $11 large) plus many other daily offerings. I have to mention the Provoletta Pequeños which takes an Argentine approach to grilled cheese. They grill sharp, dry aged provolone with fresh oregano, and serve it on tostado (grilled toast) topped with fresh arugula, lemon, olive oil, and Kalamata olive. It’s addicting, just like everything I’ve tried at Gaucho Parrilla Argentina.

The menu is hand scrawled daily on chalkboards. Offerings are sectioned into categories; small plates like empanadas, grilled potatoes and sides; meats that include five cuts of steak: ribeye, skirt, flank, New York strip and filet mignon; pig (pork), lamb, chicken; sandwiches that feature chorizo (sausage) and seafood, mussels, shrimp, clams, calamari and fish; salads to which you can add any meat if desired are always available. Gaucho also offers larger plates for those with big appetites, like a sampler platter consisting of all five cuts of steak, enough for 5 or one meat loving man or woman!

Each dish can be enhanced by the condiments featured on the wood-block table in the center of the indoor dining space. All four sauces — the Chimmi Churri, Pimenton, Ajo and Cebolla — are olive-oil based. Fresh herbs and notes of garlic, charred pepper and vinegar differentiate between the four sauces. Be sure and sample some of each to determine your favorite. Trust me, that could prove to be a real challenge… picking just one!

Anthony told us that he feels the context of eating out is changing, it’s becoming about going to a small, little restaurant, having high-quality food cooked by high-quality cooks, without the pretentiousness of a dining room table, silverware, and chandeliers. It’s cutting-edge.
Gaucho is definitely top-notch and the food is perfection… so based upon or experience and its recent prestigious award, we vote Gaucho Parrilla Argentina the Number One place in Pittsburgh to dine! For rock star food, service and overall experience it’s Gaucho hands down. This is definitely a must dine at restaurant!
Gaucho Parrilla Argentina is located at 1607 Penn Ave on the corner of 16th and Penn Avenue in the Strip, open Tuesday thru Saturday 11am-7pm.

Freedom in a Bottle: Yards Brewing Ales of the Revolution

Icon Written by admin on May 31, 2015 – 7:11 pm

Four score and far more than seven pints ago our forefathers, much like many of us, brewed their own beer. While planning the revolution that brought us the freedown we have today, our founding fathers enjoyed their fair share of ale. The founding fathers are most notably known for, well, founding a nation and a way of life for generations to come but their love of beer was as inherent in them as their belief that we should be free from Colonial England.

For example, after Thomas Jefferson stepped down from his life of public service he actually started making beer himself, taking over the duty from none other than his wife Martha. Jefferson brewed and bottled his first batch of beer at his home of Monticello in 1812, making him one of the earliest homebrewers in the new nation!

Along with plans for battles and ideas for running the United States of America as its first leader, George Washington kept a beer journal, too. This journal had brewing notes and methods for brewing in all types of weather. One of the most famous beer recipes alive today is the one Washington recorded for making small beer.

The examples go on, but the idea remains the same: beer is so closely tied with the start of our nation that it’s as much a part of the USA as apple pie, chopped down cherry trees, and of course freedom. Brewing in the time of Washington and Jefferson was surprisingly similar to how it’s done today, with some obvious improvements in technology helping us to make much better and more consistent beer.

To celebrate the love our founding fathers had for beer, Yards Brewing, located in our nation’s original capital of Philadelphia, PA, came up with their Ales of the Revolution series. Comprised of three different beers, the Ales of the Revolution pay homage to the beers these first leaders of the nation by making modern versions of these historic beers using ingredients from the original beer recipes of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin.

Created in partnership with Philadelphia’s City Tavern, a favorite bar of our founding fathers, the Ales of the Revolution showcase some unique beers that are just as good today as they were in the time of Washington, Jefferson, and Franklin.

General Washington’s Tavern Porter

General Washington sent quite a few pieces of communication to his officers, but one of these came in the form of a description of a specific style of beer and how to brew it. Using molasses to aid in fermentation and taste, Washington made his porter to resemble those found in Philadelphia at the time. Washington’s Tavern Porter is dark, smooth, with just a hint of dried fruit on the finish. Coming in at 7% ABV, Tavern Porter is an amazing beer that pays homage to our first president and his love of all things beer.

Poor Richard’s Tavern Spruce

Benjamin Franklin had a favorite recipe for beer that included barley, molasses, and oddly enough, spruce. When used in beer, spruce can lend floral, citrusy flavors that can lean towards the resinous and piney, depending on use. While the idea of a pine tree in your beer may seem odd, remember that much like hops, spruce has been used for hundreds of years as a botanical spice, even being used as a source of vitamin C to ward off scurvy during the winter.

Poor Richard’s Tavern Spruce is a highly approachable amber ale that uses blue spruce clippings from a local organic farmer that are steeped in the kettle during brewing. It’s been said that this recipe came about when hops were cut off from England during the war, this was Franklin’s attempt at an IPA without hops (even though there are hops used in this version today). Tavern Spruce comes in at 5% ABV and is considered a Spice Ale or Indigenous Ale, and even won a bronze medal two years ago at the Great American Beer Festival for Indigenous Ales and another bronze last year for historic beers. The beer is complex with a light spruce flavor and aroma. If you haven’t tried a spruce beer before, this should definitely be your first. You’ll be surprised how well spruce pairs with beer.

Thomas Jefferson’s Tavern Ale

Thomas Jefferson made sure that beer was served at every dinner as a “table liquor.” Jefferson was so enthralled with beer that his earliest plans for his home at Monticello included specific spaces for brewing and storing beer.

Jefferson considered brewing beer a scientific pursuit, which showed in his dedication to the craft. Jefferson considered beer to be ubiquitous with life, keeping it a part of his home and his daily activities. While the beer he consumed daily was a “small beer” of lower ABV than is common today, this was done more for the want to consume it often than an inability to make higher gravity brews.

Much like any successful homebrewer, Jefferson’s neighbors soon started asking for his recipes and methods for brewing, and James Madison even sent someone from his staff to learn the Monticello way of brewing to bring back home with him.

While stronger than Jefferson’s table beer, Yards’ Tavern Ale still pays homage to this early brewer and founding father. Tavern Ale comes in at 8% ABV and is considered a strong golden ale. The brewmaster for Yards worked closely with Philadelphia’s historic City Tavern to recreate Jefferson’s recipe for us to enjoy today. Brewmaster Tom Kehoe chose honey, flaked maize, rye malt, and American hops to make this beer an amazingly unique and refreshing lesson in our nation’s history.

Variety Pack

With beers this unique and amazing, it can be hard to choose only one. This is why Yards Brewing has their Ales of the Revolution variety pack. The variety pack comes in the 12-pack variety and has four of each of the Ales of the Revolution included. Pair two of these together and you’ve got a history lesson in a case.

Our founding fathers believed in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and each believed that these three necessities are all found in beer. What better way to celebrate the founding of our nation on July 4th than with beers that are directly tied with those great men that helped our nation stand up for ourselves and demand freedom.

Yards Brewing is proudly distributed in and around Pittsburgh by Frank B. Fuhrer Wholesale.

Cedar Point – Hotel Breakers

Icon Written by admin on May 31, 2015 – 7:10 pm

Cedar Point… …………………. Hotel Breakers

May 2015 marked the debut of the newly-renovated Hotel Breakers located along the mile-long Cedar Point Beach. Hotel Breakers completed its two-year transformation into the ultimate resort destination. It took two years to re-style, re-imagine and totally refresh and completely refurbish from the ground up the entire hotel. During the remodeling they added a new exterior along with a total modernization of the entire hotel. Hotel Breakers added a new elegant entrance portal. The hotel features classic interior finishes, newly-furnished and remodeled rooms. All guest room are now equipped with LCD TV’s, new furniture, all brand new bedding and fabulous décor. Plus each guest room features a dorm-sized refrigerator and microwave. Complimentary Wi-FI and fitness room are also available.

Guests will find a comfortable, social setting inside the five-story rotunda that now is home to a full-service Starbucks and a refreshing new Surf Lounge Bar with a patio. The rotunda space has been transformed to house an expanded exterior green space with spectacular panoramic views of Lake Erie and an outdoor water play area with zero depth entry and splash features. The popular favorites of TGI Friday’s, Perkins and TOMO Hibachi Grill will continue to be available. Hotel Breakers at Cedar Point the perfect place for families, or anyone looking for that special “get away!”

The outdoor pool deck was expanded to include a water play area with zero-depth entry, a hot tub plus new deck chairs and umbrellas (outdoor pool areas open Memorial Day Weekend).

“We want to provide a well-rounded and complete vacation experience for our guests, and the enhancements at the Hotel Breakers will help them have just that,” said Jason McClure. “It will have a fun and fresh feel, is steps away from the park and it’s a great place to start new family traditions.”

Just as their guests arrived 110 years ago by train and ferry, they were looking for the same thing as guests are looking for in 2015 – a place to share time with family and friends. While the skyline of the park has changed over the 110 year history of the Hotel Breakers, their commitment to service hasn’t.

Located just steps away from Cedar Point, The Roller Coaster Capital of the World!, the park’s signature Hotel Breakers is the perfect place to stay after a perfect day.
Other amenities include two pools and Jacuzzis, access to the Cedar Point Beach and Boardwalk, a gift shop, arcade, exercise room, three restaurants, Early Entry (access to some of the biggest rides and coasters before the park opens to the general public), discounted Cedar Point admission tickets, complimentary Wi-Fi and the comfort and convenience of staying right next to the rides and roller coasters of Cedar Point..

The charming waterfront hotel first opened its doors in 1905 as the “largest and greatest hotel on the Great Lakes.” Known for its breathtaking views and cool summer breezes, Hotel Breakers has been an important part of any complete Cedar Point experience. Notable guests over the years have included celebrities such as sharpshooter Annie Oakley, comedians Abbott and Costello, composer John Philip Sousa and six U.S. presidents, including Franklin D. Roosevelt and Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Located on a sandy peninsula along the shore of Lake Erie, Cedar Point has been named as one of the best amusement parks in the world by USA Today, TripAdvisor, The Travel Channel and more. Cedar Point’s amazing lineup of roller coasters has received top billing by CBS News, Time magazine, the Los Angeles Times and many more.
Whether you will be visiting for the first time or the fiftieth, we are confident you will enjoy your stay on the shores of Lake Erie at Cedar Point’s Hotel Breakers.

Reservations for the 2015 season can be placed online at or by phone at (419) 627-2106

Heavy Seas Beer

Icon Written by admin on May 31, 2015 – 7:07 pm

Set Sail With Heavy Seas Beer

The story of Heavy Seas Beer started back in 1994 when would-be founder Hugh Sisson left his family owned and operated brewpub to focus on larger scale brewing. In 1995 he founded Clipper City Brewing Company in Baltimore, Maryland. The Clipper City brewery focused primarily on those in and around Baltimore with both recipes and branding, as the clipper ship was first constructed in Baltimore, so they’re pretty big fans of them there.

Fast-forward to 2003 and Clipper City Brewing is having a difficult time selling beer too far from their home base in Baltimore, primarily due to their insular branding. So what does this have to do with Heavy Seas Beer? Well, in 2003 Clipper City decided to add a new lineup of beers to their portfolio with their Heavy Seas brand. The brand was specifically created to house the brewery’s higher-gravity beers so they could be easily picked out. The brand was widely popular and in 2010, Sisson decided to re-brand the entire Clipper City lineup as Heavy Seas Beer. The Clipper City beers that made the jump include Heavy Seas Gold Ale, Powder Monkey Pale Ale, and Cutlass Amber Lager.

Jump ahead to today, and Heavy Seas Beer is a strong and multi-faceted brand that includes beers that run the gamut from low to high, light to dark, and strong to balanced in taste. In short, there’s a beer for everyone in their lineup.

Smooth Sail Summer Ale

With warm weather on the horizon, it’s time for the summer ales to make their yearly appearance yet again. Heavy Seas is launching a new summer ale this year with Smooth Sail.

Smooth Sail is a wheat ale that’s brewed with orange and lemon peel, and was brewed to give the beer an airy mouthfeel and a nice frothy head. Brewmaster Chris Leonard says they employed a neutral strain of wheat yeast to produce a clean tasting beer that’s delicate on the palate. In short, it’s light, slightly hoppy, and citrusy to give you an amazingly refreshing summer beer, and at 4.5% ABV, it’s easy to have a few while sitting on the porch and enjoying the nicer weather.

Cross Bones Session IPA

A hot new trend this year is the session IPA. These beers have all the hop flavor and aroma you love but with a lower ABV rating so you can enjoy a few in a row. Crossbones is Heavy Seas’ first new year-round beer since 2003, which means they put a lot of work into making sure this one is perfect.

This sessionable IPA comes in at 4.5% ABV and features floral and citrus hop aroma with citrus and a malt backbone to round out the flavor. While the hops in this beer might be a secret blend, Heavy Seas uses six different malts to achieve the perfect flavor and body for this beer. Cross Bones is also now available in 12 oz. cans.

Loose Cannon American IPA

You’d expect the flagship beer for a brewery to be pretty amazing, and Loose Cannon delivers on this in strides. This 7.25% ABV beer has an intense hop aroma thanks to Simcoe, Palisade, and Centennial hops, which give the beer a mix of grapefruit, herbs, and pine.

Loose Cannon doesn’t over-do it with bitterness, keeping it at a respectful 45 IBUs, which makes the beer easy to drink without having your palate worn out. Loose Cannon is hopped three times during the brewing process, including in the boil, the hopback, and in the fermenter. All of this together makes Loose Cannon a top-notch American IPA that needs tried to be believed. Loose Cannon is available in cans as well as bottles.

Double Cannon Double IPA

Sometimes bigger is better, and when talking about Double Cannon from Heavy Seas this couldn’t be more true. Double Cannon is a double IPA that comes in at 9.5% ABV and features a huge hop aroma and flavor thanks to an insane amount of dry-hopping. The grain bill and alcohol content helps to add a touch of sweetness to this beer while keeping it well balanced.

Double Cannon actually uses the same malt recipe proportions as Loose Cannon, just kicked up a few notches, and the hop bill is doubled. Consider this a bigger, meaner version of Loose Cannon that’s still approachable and a solid beer without going over the top. Double Cannon is the current seasonal beer from Heavy Seas, so make sure to get it while you can!

Small Craft Warning Über Pils

Pilsners are known for their drinkability and balance, which is why Small Craft Warning Über Pils is so fresh and so clean. This 7% Pilsner uses Warrior, Palisade, French Strisselspalt, Saaz, Simcoe, and Cascade hops to make a beer that’s somehow both complex yet simple.

Über Pils is crisp, slightly sweet, and features a strong malt backbone to balance things out and make it perfect for just about any season.

The Sunken Sampler

Up for a little variety? Heavy Seas sells their Sunken Sampler for just this reason. Basically, the Sunken Sampler consists of four of their beers in either 12 or 24-packs. One of these four is their rotating seasonal with the remainder consisting of their year-round offerings.

If variety is what you’re looking for, then the Sunken Sampler is for you.

Uncharted Waters Series

The most interesting and creative offerings from Heavy Seas is definitely their Uncharted Waters line. These beers all feature some influence from wood and are all generally pretty big beers. You can find the Uncharted Waters beers in 22-oz bottles as well as on draft.

The Uncharted Waters lineup includes:

Phantom Ship – A 9.5% ABV Belgian-style tripel aged in bourbon barrels

Red Sky at Morning – A 9% ABV Belgian-style saison aged in Chardonnay barrels

Blackbeard’s Breakfast – A 10% ABV imperial coffee porter aged in bourbon barrels

Siren Noire – A 9.5% ABV imperial chocolate stout aged in bourbon barrels

Desert Island Series

The Desert Island series from Heavy Seas is a series of draft-only beers that were made to give the brewers at Heavy Seas some freedom while giving us some amazing beer.

The idea is simple: What beer would you brew if it were the only one you could take with you to a desert island? Basic nourishment aside, this idea gave the brewers the ability to make a beer they each truly wanted to make. Each beer is limited to 100 barrels, making each extremely limited, so if you see these on tap, make sure to try it ASAP.


Real ale originally came from a cask that held one firkin of beer in it. Today, we call these either casks or firkins, but whatever you call them, Heavy Seas is dedicated to serving the best there is.

Heavy Seas actually offers bars the ability to make their own casks by choosing the beer they want, the hops they want added, any wood they want, and even some spices like peppercorns or vanilla beans. Looking at their chart, we’re pretty sure we want a Loose Cannon with some Cascade hops and lemon zest. Sounds amazing!

Heavy Seas Beer is proudly distributed in and around the Pittsburgh area by Vecenie Distributing.

Year-Round Hoppy IPAs For Cold Winter Months

Icon Written by admin on December 31, 2014 – 3:36 pm

Year-Round Hoppy IPAs For Cold Winter Months

Much like the sky at 6 PM in the middle of winter, beers in the winter tend to be dark and cold. This doesn’t mean that every beer available in the colder months must be this way though. While there’s a huge variety of darker beers available that range in taste from bitter to sweet to weird and wild, you’ll also find an abundance of hoppy IPAs, too. Fresh, crisp, and with a healthy dose of bitterness these IPAs do their own job of pushing the winter blues away and bring with them thoughts of warmer months.

To help you see how amazing a great IPA can be in the wintertime, we worked with our friends at Frank B. Fuhrer Wholesale to come up with a list of some of the best IPAs you can get. While these aren’t exactly what’s known as a Winter IPA, these beers are available all year so the ones you start liking when it’s cold out will still be available when things warm up. These standards of the hophead’s world are each uniquely bitter and all are very different from one another, making your choice simple: get one of each and call it a winter.

21st Amendment Brewery – Brew Free or Die IPA

Since 2000 San Francisco-based 21st Amendment Brewery has been producing some of the best beers in the country. The brewery is named after one of our favorite amendments, the one that allowed the US to drink once again after the tough years of Prohibition. The guys at 21st Amendment decided they wanted to do things a little differently than the rest of the craft breweries that were opening their doors and from day one every beer they produced was canned instead of bottled.

The can helps to protect the beer from oxygen that can seep around a cap and most importantly it keeps light from striking the beer, which causes a beer to skunk and a flavorful hop profile to be squashed. Cans cost less to ship, get cold quicker, and store in our fridge more easily.

21st Amendment’s featured year-round IPA is a perfect example of a west coast IPA in every way. Brew Free or Die IPA is a 7% ABV American IPA that’s brewed with two-row Pale malt with Munich and Light Crystal to give the final beer some serious character. Columbus hops are used for bittering, and Cascade and Centennial hops are used to finish the beer out and give it that amazing west coast IPA profile you love. Brew Free or Die IPA is 21st Amendment’s best-selling beer for a very good reason, and all it takes is one to see what we’re talking about.

Brooklyn Brewery – East IPA

When it comes to IPAs, there are two main categories: American and English. Generally each is brewed with hops and malts from their respective countries and for the most part, American IPAs tend to be hugely bitter with a ton of hop character while English IPAs tend to be more balanced and focused on the malt with enough hops present to even things out.

Brooklyn Brewery out of, you guessed it, Brooklyn, New York didn’t like this exacting split and decided to do something about it. Their 6.9% ABV East IPA is a combination of American and English IPAs with a definite favoring to the English side. Brooklyn combines American hops like Centennial and Willamette with British beauties East Kent Golding and Northdown to give you a beer that’s firm with its bitterness but still clean, drinkable and perfect for pairing.

Church Brew Works – Thunderhop IPA

So what happens when a church stops being a church? Well, you can go the 21 Jump Street route and turn it into a secret base for your undercover police force, or you can make it into one of the most interesting breweries you’ll find anywhere.

The Church Brew Works, located on Liberty Avenue just up from the main street of Lawrenceville makes some pretty great beer in an environment that’s amazing to see. With beer brewed on the now defunct pulpit to a confessional that now houses their liquor, The Church Brew Works is a site to behold for sure.

One of the most popular year-round beers from Church is their Thunderhop IPA. This beer that draws it’s name and logo from another type of god Zeus is something the God of Thunder would be proud to share a name with. Thunderhop features intense bitterness with a slight malty backbone. Far from balanced, this hugely hoppy 6.5% ABV beer uses nearly 3 pounds of Australian Galaxy and American Chinook per barrel, which means you’ll get a heavy dose of pine, citrus, and earthy aromas and flavors.

Deschutes Brewery – Fresh Squeezed IPA

If only it were as easy as squeezing hops to get an IPA out we’d all have hop fields in our back yards. While it’s definitely not as easy as squeezing an orange for orange juice, Deschutes Brewery’s Fresh Squeezed IPA tastes like that’s exactly how it was made.

Finally available year-round, this IPA from the Oregon brewer features a distinct citrus profile that’s thanks to the Citra, Mosaic, and Nugget hops that are used in the brewing process. These three hops combined give Fresh Squeezed that fresh off the bine taste and profile that makes it refreshing, no matter what the temperature is outside.

Coming in at 6.4% ABV, Fresh Squeezed IPA has just enough alcohol to make you nice and warm but is low enough to allow you to have a few.

Deschutes Brewery was founded all the way back in 1988 when craft brewing was just known as making great beer and the popularity of craft beer we have today wasn’t even a dream. Since then Deschutes has been making some of the best beer in the country using fresh ingredients and a dedication to great craft beer.

Flying Dog Brewery – Raging Bitch IPA

If you’re a sucker for a good story then the founding of Flying Dog Brewery is one you need to know. Founded in 1990 by George Stranahan in Aspen, Colorado, the Flying Dog Brewpub took it’s name from an expedition Stranahan took in 1983 to climb the famous and deadly K2 in the Himalayas. The entire party returned unharmed and upon enjoying a drink at their hotel he saw a painting with what looked like a flying dog in it. This story stuck with George and when it came time to found his brewpub he realized there couldn’t be a better name or story to go behind it.

Flying Dog made their move to their current home in Frederick, Maryland in 2008 and since then has been producing some of the best beer available. One last interesting piece of the Flying Dog story is the label artwork. Stranahan was good friends with the Hunter Thompson, the author and Gonzo journalist as well as Thompson’s friend and artist Ralph Steadman. The artwork for Flying Dog labels may be thought of as an interpretation or imitation of his artwork, but in actuality Steadman has created the artwork for each Flying Dog label.

Just like their story and the artwork applied to each can and bottle, if you’re looking for something different in the world of IPAs, then we’ve got just the dog for you. Raging Bitch is a combination of an American IPA and a Belgian pale ale that works amazingly well.

Starting on the American side of things, Flying Dog uses Warrior, Columbus, and Amarillo hops for a strong hop profile and bitterness. This combined with the Caramel malt that they use for a specialty malt gives the beer a hefty profile and medium mouthfeel that helps to support the huge 8.3% ABV.

As for the Belgian side, strong Belgian yeast is used to give the beer a unique funk that can only come from the Belgians. When you pour this beer expect to see a big fluffy head of white foam and a cloudy complexion. Bitter, fruity, and a little funky, Raging Bitch is always interesting from the order to the last sip.

Left Hand Brewing – 400 Pound Monkey

If you like your IPAs a little more balanced, then the wildly named 400 Pound Monkey is perfect for you. This beer from Left Hand Brewing is an English-style IPA that comes in at 6.8% ABV and features an earthy, herbal hop profile that’s balanced out with bready malt.

The brewers at Left Hand use Magnum, Boadicea, and Sovereign hops to make 400 Pound Monkey a beer that’s less a hop bomb and more a medley of flavors that give their thanks to the small cone-shaped flowers. Pale 2-row, Crystal, and Munich malts as well as malted wheat give this beer a medium body and mouthfeel that make the tastes stand out all that much more.

Long Trail Brewing Company – Limbo Double IPA

By now you probably think everything that can be done to make an IPA unique has been done. There’s black IPAs, white IPAs, Belgian IPAs, and even Lambic IPAs (not common, but they exist) out there, making the IPA a pretty tried and true style.

While there’s a lot that’s already been done and just about every hop that’s been used, there’s always room for something new. Take for example Limbo IPA from Long Trail Brewing Company. Limbo is new in two ways. First, it’s made using a brand new breed of hops coming from Australia and the Pacific Northwest and second, it started it’s life on Long Trail’s Pilot Facility brewery.

This beer is hugely bitter and nicely warming at 7.6% ABV. Limbo has a great floral and resiny hop aroma with a little caramel from the malt hiding in there as well. On first taste you’ll notice some roasted malts and a floral hop presence that finishes with a nice dose of bitterness.

Rogue Brewing – Brutal IPA

Listed as a non-traditional IPA, this big citrusy beer uses Alluvial hops right from their own Rogue Farms, Brutal IPA is actually a somewhat misnamed beer. While there is definitely a healthy dose of bitterness in Brutal, the beer is actually pretty well balanced with 2-row, Carawheat, and C15 malts as well as Dare and Risk malts from the Rogue farms. These give the beer a medium body and help to balance out the citrus hop flavors to leave you with an amazing beer that’s far from brutal, in a very good way.

Brutal is described as a cross between a Very Extra Special Bitter and an American IPA, giving the beer a robust and complex taste that’s bitter, full of hop aroma and flavor, and all around great. Brutal is a great beer for dabblers in the hop world as well as full-blown hopheads alike, just don’t let the name scare you.

Southern Tier Brewing Company – 2XIPA

When people think about beers that are great for colder months, two things come to mind: dark and strong. While 2XIPA from Southern Tier in Lakewood, New York might not be dark, it makes up for that in it’s 8.2% ABV.

2XIPA is one seriously bitter beer but because of this, the brewers at Southern Tier made it with an extra-strong malt backbone so it can easily stand up against the citrus and piney hops that come along with the bitterness.

This beer features four different types of hops and two types of malt for a medium body and a flavor that shouts grapefruit, bitter lemon, and a slightly sweet bread. To help stave off the cold, this beer is best drank at about 45-50*, so you don’t have to hold onto an icy glass while enjoying it.

Yards Brewing – IPA

Our last IPA in this list of year-round IPAs that are great for the winter months comes by the way of Philadelphia. Yards Brewing believes that the home of modern brewing, England, still makes amazing styles of beer and as such should still be consumed. While hugely hoppy and big beers from the west coast are great, sometimes a well-balanced IPA that follows the traditions of our British beer ancestors is a good thing.

While far from a traditional English IPA, Yard’s version uses malts from England along with Chinook and Amarillo hops from the US, this beer comes in at a surprising 7% ABV and is both robust as well as balanced, giving it a truly unique flavor.

Yards IPA is slightly fruity, very aromatic, and bitter enough to match the slightly higher alcohol content. Launched all the way back in 1998, this beer is one that will be around for quite some time.

Each of these IPAs are available year-round in bottles and on draft and are proudly distributed in the Pittsburgh area by Frank B. Fuhrer Wholesale.

East End Brewing

Icon Written by admin on December 31, 2014 – 3:34 pm

East End Brewing: 10 Years and Still Going Strong

East End Brewing recently celebrated their 10th anniversary and to the joy of every fan of the brewery, founder Scott Smith planned a week of events to celebrate the occasion. Each event, while as weird and unique as a long underwear bike ride ending at the brewery to as high class as a beer and cheese pairing, each featured the outstanding beers brewed in the building on Julius Street. While the week of festivities might be over, the beer is a far cry from running out any time soon. With demand growing and the guys at East End brewing at near full capacity, it’s a good time to have a good beer from East End Brewing and like Scott suggests, you should probably get one of those good beers for a good friend, too.
Year-Round Beers
Before getting to the amazing events that made up Scott’s Week of Shenanigans, it’s probably best to get to the heart of the celebration, which is obviously the beer. East End Brewing (EEBC) prides itself on a solid lineup of year round beers as well as an ever-changing list of seasonal and rotating rarities. For starters, hands-down the most popular beer in EEBC’s lineup is Big Hop.

Big Hop IPA – This 5.8% ABV American IPA features a healthy dose of Centennial and Cascade hops that give the beer a huge hop flavor and aroma without making it overly bitter. The beer is expertly balanced between malty and bitter, and if you question why it’s the most popular beer from the brewery, just check out your local craft beer bar and try a pint, as it’s also the most heavily distributed beer from East End Brewing in the Pittsburgh area.

If you’re lucky and catch it on draft, East End produces a fresh hop version of this beer every fall called Big Hop Harvest. This version is slightly higher in ABV at 6.4% and features tons of fresh hop aroma and flavor.

Fat Gary Nut Brown Ale – While the actual Fat Gary (yep, he’s a real guy) wasn’t in attendance for the 10th anniversary festivities with Harris Grill (more on that in a little bit), his namesake beer most definitely was. Far Gary Nut Brown Ale is a deep brown with a toasted malt character and a nutty, somewhat sweet taste that is a very sessionable 3.8% ABV.

Fat Gary is just about the perfect beer to have on draft while watching the Pens play and since it’s lower in alcohol and not in taste, you can enjoy a few of them during the game.

Monkey Boy Hefeweizen – While you might think hefeweizens are only for the summer months, East End’s Monkey Boy will quickly change your mind. The 5% ABV year-round hefeweizen features a distinct ester profile that gives the beer slight banana flavors while finishing crisp and delicious. Like other hefeweizens, Monkey boy doesn’t have any actual bananas in it, just some hard-working German yeast that give Monkey Boy a taste that’ll remind you of summer all year long.

Black Strap Stout – Colder months call for darker beers, or so the belief goes. If you’re one of the dark beer fans when the temperature drops, then Black Strap Stout is the beer you want to ask for the next time you’re snowed in at the bar. Brewed with black strap molasses and brown sugar, Black Strap Stout features tastes of dark chocolate and a hint of black coffee.

At 6.2% ABV, Black Strap Stout is a little more bitter than you’d probably expect, but in a very good way. The beer is well balanced and finishes with a slight bit of sweetness paired with a distinct American hop profile.
Seasonal Beers
East End also has a solid lineup of beers that come out only once a year but when you see them on draft, make sure you try them first, as they’re usually produced in smaller batches than the year-round beers so they come and go a little more quickly than you’d like.

Snow Melt Winter Ale – Available starting in November each year, Snow Melt is a dark and malty 7% ABV winter warmer that’s brewed to keep you warm, even with a beer that’s cold. Malty, hoppy, and all-around amazing, Snow Melt is one of the best winter beers you’ll have all year, from Pittsburgh or anywhere.

Monkey Girl – The darker sibling of Monkey Boy, this 4% ABV dunkelweizen, or dark wheat beer, has a fruity aroma that features the same banana esters as Monkey Boy, but with a darker color and a slightly more malty taste. Perfect for the colder months as much as the warmer ones, Monkey Girl isn’t the easiest beer to find, but if your local craft beer bar doesn’t get it on tap, they can always get the bar to request it from their distributor.

Along Came a Cider – Not every seasonal beer has to be a beer, so to speak. Take Along Came a Cider, a 5% all-Pennsylvania apple cider made at East End Brewing. This cider is like biting into a fresh cut apple and just like the real thing, it’s tart yet sweet with a surprisingly dry finish.
East End Brewing’s 10th Anniversary Party
In 2004 two things happened, and Pittsburgh is all the better for both. East End Brewing Company opening their doors being the first and Harris Grill serving their first customer being the second. Since then both companies have grown to be outstanding examples of a brewery and a restaurant in their respective areas. Today, each is thriving and since both opened in the same year, it should be no surprise that both Harris Grill and East End Brewing are celebrating their 10th anniversaries this year. To celebrate this feat and to kick off EEBC’s Week of Shenanigans, they joined forces and threw one heck of a party at the brewery. There were party hats, great beer, and about 200 of their closest friends to celebrate and enjoy some great food paired with amazing beer. There was even cake and an..interesting…rendition of Happy Birthday.

The idea was simple: Harris Grill chose 5 of their favorite dishes from their menu and East End paired each with one of their beers. Everyone in attendance got a cool 10th anniversary glass that’s shaped like a can to put their beer in, and six stations in both the new brewpub and throughout the brewery to get said beer and the food to go with it.

Each pairing was thoughtfully planned and while there was quite a bit of bacon in attendance (as you’d expect from Harris Grill), there were great vegetarian options, too.

The party wrapped up with a joint cutting of the cake with the people behind both Harris Grill as well as East End’s very own Scott Smith and thankfully everyone walked away with as many fingers as they came into it with. Everyone had some cake and a little more beer and the night ended on a very high note, as any night that ends with cake and beer rightfully should.

As for the food and beer pairings, they included:
• Mac & Cheese with Black Hop IPA
• Pierogis with Monkey Girl Dunkelweizen
• Lettuce Wraps with Along Came a Cider
• The Garden Weasel Veggie Sandwich with Big Hop Harvest IPA
• Pork Shank Reduction with Fatter Gary Imperial Nut Brown Ale
• Black Strap Stout Muffin with Nunkin

Each pairing was great, and I see a few of them getting recreated at Harris Grill in the near future for sure, even if it’s not official.

While you can get all of these beers at the brewery and glasses of them at the newly-licensed brewpub at East End Brewing, the closer option is to get your East End Brewing fix at your local craft beer bar where you’ll find their year-round beers fairly frequently and the seasonal beers every now and then. It’s been a great 110 years and from all of us at Nightwire Magazine, we wish Scott and everyone else at East End Brewing another 10 and then some.
East End Brewing is proudly distributed in the Pittsburgh area by Vecenie Distributing Co. and can be found on draft in your favorite craft beer bars throughout the city and surrounding areas.

Hal’s Bottle Shop

Icon Written by admin on December 8, 2014 – 9:23 pm

Hal’s Bottle Shop – Best Craft Beer Selection Around!!

Located in the heart of North Hills minutes from I279 and downtown Pittsburgh, Hal’s Bottle Shop is the perfect place for beer lover’s. They have over 500 beers to choose from and beer experts to help you narrow down your selection. This is the perfect place for gifts plus their knowledgeable friendly staff is always available to help guide and advise you.

Hal’s Bottle Shop carries over 40 IPA’s/Double IPA’s rotating throughout the year. Plus, they have a huge seasonal selection with currently over 50 winter beers in stock and a large import selection with over 30 Belgian beers to choose from. You can purchase one bottle or mix and match six-packs.

At Hal’s Bottle Shop you can drink a beer, kick back and relax in the bottle shop or venture over to the restaurant side – Hal’s Bar and Grill where you order munchies or a full course dinner. The food at Hal’s is the best American fare in the North Hills. From steaks, chicken, ribs, salads, pizza, sandwiches, munchies and so much more, you’ll be surprisingly pleased with the high quality food, service and pricing. Not only do they offer an extensive beer menu, but they also have a great selection of wines and hand mixed cocktails and fine spirits.

At the bottle shop they always have 3 rotating beers on tap for growlers and drafts. Plus you can bring in and fill your own growler or purchase a growler from Hal’s.

Beer tastings from various breweries take place on Thursdays from 7pm-9pm. Stop in meet brewery representatives and brew masters to discuss various brewing methods and sample amazing craft beers. A great fun evening for all! Plus, Thursdays are $3.00 draft nights and $3.00 off growlers.

Tuesdays are $2.00 off growlers and $2.00 off big bottles.

Whether dining/drinking in or grabbing beer on-the-go, Hal’s should be at the top of your priority list.

Hal’s Bottle Shop open 7 days a week – Mon-Tue-Wed 4pm – 11pm – Thursday & Friday 4 pm -12 midnight – Saturday 12 noon – 12 midnight – Sunday – 12 noon till 10 pm – located at 3225 Babcock Blvd., Ross Township, PA, 15237 – Phone: 412-837-2031 – Follow them on – Twitter: @halsbottleshop – Untapped: @halsbottleshop

Green Flash Brewing Company

Icon Written by admin on November 7, 2014 – 1:05 am

Green Flash Brewing Company

Known for their amazingly hoppy and bitter creations, Green Flash out of San Diego, California is quite possibly a hop lovers heaven. Since originally opening their doors in 2002, Green Flash has made a name for themselves in the beer world for having some most hoppy and aggressive beers available, and beer lovers definitely celebrate them for this exact reason.

The award-winning brewery makes beers like Palate Wrecker, a beer so bitter it attacks your palate and fends off any other, less superb tastes while enjoying it. Along with the intense palate wrecker you’ll find higher than average stouts, rye IPAs, a Red Ale/IPA hybrid, and a Triple IPA that’ll definitely make you sit down to enjoy all of it.

Green Flash is a trailblazer in the world of craft beer and after tasting most of their selection, it’s hard to argue that point. While Green Flash tends to focus on the extreme by upping bitterness levels as well as ABVs, their beers retain a high level of complexity and enjoyability that you may not expect at first glance.

Not happy with settling for the given norms, Green Flash is constantly innovating new beers and trying new techniques to get closer to beer Nirvana with every sip. This means the brewery doesn’t just rest on its laurels and sell the same beer every year, but instead they are continuously coming up with new beers and new takes on old styles.
Brewing Something New in Virginia
Along with innovating new beers, Green Flash is making it easier for those of us on the East Coast to get their beers and to enjoy them as fresh as possible. Their first thought was to build a super fast train to transport their beers across the country and to name it after their Green Bullet IPA. Sadly, the finance department got wind of this plan and shut it down quicker than a speakeasy during prohibition. Green Flash still wanted to get their beers to us East Coasters quicker, so they decided the next best thing was to bring the brewery to us.

Green Flash’s second brewery will be located in Virginia Beach, VA. The brewery is very similar to the current California brewery including an on-site lab for beer analysis (no, not the kind of “beer analysis you’re used to doing yourself), a 58,000 sq-ft footprint, and a tasting room and outdoor beer garden. The new brewery will produce 100,000 barrels when running at full capacity.
The Discovery Pack
It’s been said that variety is the spice of life and when it comes to beer this couldn’t be more true. While a case of Green Bullet or West Coast IPA is a glorious thing to behold, most of us want a little variety in our beer purchases. For this reason Green Flash created their Discovery Pack: an 8-pack of 12 oz bottles that consists of their Double Stout, West Coast IPA, and Hop Head Red. Made for fans of higher ABV beers and hops, this is the best way to get a great variety of their award-winning classics.

Double Stout
Darker than most the other beers Green Flash makes, Double Stout is a modern American version of an old world classic. With the aroma and taste of bittersweet chocolate and undertones of coffee, this 8.8% black ale is just what you need to change things up from your favorite IPA. While the aroma and taste is chocolate and semi sweet, the finish is all dryness and hop bitterness. Two of the eight 12-ounce beers in the Discovery Pack are Double Stouts.

West Coast IPA
If citrusy, bitter IPAs from the West Coast are your thing, then you will love Green Flash’s West Coast IPA. This Double India Pale Ale comes in at 8.1% ABV and 95 IBUs, and has enough malty backbone to support both with ease. Green Flash uses a mix of Simcoe, Columbus, Centennial, Citra, and Cascade hops to give this beer a mix of grapefruit, pine, dankness, and a floral aroma to make a beer like you’ve probably wished for. Green Flash knows your obsession with West Coast IPAs, so you’ll get four of these in each Discovery 8-pack.

West Coast IPA originally was listed as having 7.3% ABV, but with more efficient brewing equipment came a better beer, so the ABV is now listed at 8.1%, and we couldn’t be happier about it.

Hop Head Red
One of the newer beers Green Flash has to offer, Hop Head Red is a mix between an American Red Ale and an IPA. This makes for a malty, bitter beer than has the red hue and malt backbone you wouldn’t expect from an IPA that’s 8.1% ABV and 70 IBUs. Hopped during the boil with Amarillo, Warrior, and everyone’s favorite Nugget hops and dry hopped with a nearly unnecessary amount of Amarillo, Hop Head Red has a floral aroma and a citrusy taste that makes this unique style of IPA one you definitely want to try, and with the Discovery Pack you’ll get two of these amazing beers to do just that.
New on Draft From Green Flash
The Discovery Pack isn’t the only new release from Green Flash, but to get these new beers you’ll have to head to your favorite craft beer bar to find them. Green Flash has two new draft IPAs that tone down the ABV a little but somehow turn up the taste.

Soul Style IPA
First up is Soul Style IPA. This 6.8% ABV beer that’s only available in draft form currently uses a carefully formulated blend of Simcoe, Citra, Warrior, and Cascade hops to make an American IPA that’s worthy of having the Green Flash name. Basically, think West Coast IPA but in a beer you can have more than one of. Big on hop flavor with a malt backbone, Soul Style is a single IPA that has tropical citrus flavors as well as floral notes to give a well-rounded hop experience in a slightly lower ABV form. Even with it’s lower ABV, Soul Style still comes to the party with 75 IBUs.

Jibe Session IPA
The other new draft-only offering from Green Flash is surprisingly enough, a session IPA. If drinking a few hoppy, bitter beers in a row is your thing, then Jibe Session IPA is perfect for you. Green Flash turned down the ABV on this beer all the way down to 4% while keeping IBUs at a respectable 65. Brewed with Warrior, Chinook, and Cascade hops, Jibe is just about as perfect of a sessionable beer as you can find. Not watered down and full of flavor you’d expect from higher ABV beers, it’s the perfect beer for a night out.

These and more Green Flash beers can be found in the best craft beer bars, bottle shops, and distributors throughout Pittsburgh and are proudly distributed by Galli Wholesale.

Lindemans Brewery

Icon Written by admin on November 7, 2014 – 1:03 am

The Wild World of Lambics with Lindemans Brewery

Beer is one of the oldest beverages in the world. With traces of the beverage found in Egyptian tombs and even laws concerning it listed in the Code of Hammurabi, beer definitely has some history behind it. Lambic beer is one of the oldest styles of beer available today that still retains much of its original taste and recipe. Lambic are a very unique style of beer that uses spontaneous fermentation to produce a dry, vinous taste that often has a tart or sour tinge of flavor to it. These beers are often low on the ABV scale and huge on taste. Lambics are definitely a unique creature, which is why few breweries can make them well, if at all.

Lindemans Brewery, based southwest of Brussels in the small town of Vlezenbeek, has been brewing lambic beers commercially since 1822. The brewers of these unique beers wasn’t first introduced to the United States however until 1979, making Lindemans the first lambic beers marketed in the US as well as the best selling still today.
What is a Lambic Beer?
So what exactly is a lambic beer? These amazing and solely unique beers are often misunderstood, mislabeled, and even mis-translated. Sometimes considered “fruity” beers or even misunderstood as champagne; lambic beers hold a unique place in beer history.

Lambic beers use wild yeast along with malted barley, un-malted wheat, and aged hops to give a truly unique beer experience that is unlike just about any other beer you’ve ever had. A common misconception about lambic beers is that they’re meant for people that don’t like “regular” beer, and while they are sweeter and flavored oftentimes with fruit, lambic beers hold a special place in our history with beer and can easily be enjoyed alongside more common beer styles, just as something very different.

Lambic beers in the past were commonly drank in place of water, so their ABV was traditionally low for this reason. Since fermentation isn’t controlled as it is with other styles of beer, ABV is commonly lower than these others as well, too.

The Lambic Beers of Lindemans Brewery

Lindemans Framboise (Raspberry)
Easily the most popular and most familiar of Lindemans lambic beers, Framboise (pronounced fram-bwa) is made with raspberries and offers a tart, semi-sour taste. Highly effervescent and sweet as well as tart, Framboise is Lindemans most popular beer for a very good reason.

ABV – 2.5%
Aroma – Sweet, fruity raspberry with some funk from the wild yeast.
Taste – Taste is dominated by the tart raspberries and followed up with a sweet middle and a tart, somewhat sour finish.
Finish – Tart raspberries with an acidic tinge. No bitterness whatsoever.

Lindemans Kriek (Cherry)
Next up in popularity is Lindemans Kriek (pronounced creek). This cherry lambic is acidic while being sweet and has a strong taste of black cherries. Lindemans uses a proprietary method for adding cherry juice from unfrozen cherries to a blend of lambic beers of various ages. The result is a pinkish-red beer that has the taste of sparkling cherry champagne while still keeping the funky, acidic taste that lambics are known for.

ABV – 3.5%
Aroma – A strong smell of cherries is on the front of the aroma along with some malty sweetness and a slightly funky back.
Taste – as expected, cherries dominate this beer’s taste, in a very good way. The middle is very sweet and effervescent with an acidic end.
Finish – Lindemans Kriek finishes with an acidic aftertaste that’s paired with sweet cherries. This taste, combined with the maltiness of this beer, give it an amazingly refreshing taste and makes it an all around great beer, especially for warm weather.

Lindemans Peche (Peach)
In keeping with the fruity lambics, Peche (pronounced pesh), or Peach to us in the US is golden in color and screams fresh peach from the moment you remove the cork. Crisp, slightly tart, and full of peach flavor, this beer still holds true to the lambic style while giving amazingly true-to-life peach flavor.

ABV – 2.5%
Aroma – Strong aroma of sweet peaches dominates the first smell, but after that traces of yeast and some slight malt can be found, too.
Taste – The strong aroma of this beer has nothing on the taste. Huge peach flavor that’s balanced out with the acidic funkiness of a lambic beer. Behind the peach taste are traces of tangerine and malt as well.
Finish – Peche finishes with a clean, sweet taste that leaves a remnant of the peach flavor. Less acidic than other lambics from Lindemans, this beer is sweet without being cloying.

Lindemans Cassis (Black Currant)
Another amazing fruit lambic from Lindemans is their Cassis (pronounced cass-ees), which is made with black currants. The currant has been used in Belgium for centuries as an ingredient in beers as well as liquors, and gives the beer a smell and taste similar to blackberries but slightly more tart.

ABV – 3.5%
Aroma – The aroma is pretty easily identified as blackberries with some less identifiable funkiness from the wild yeast in the background. This gives the beer an earthy aroma that’s underneath the strong fruit smell.
Taste – The taste is similar to the aroma with some sweetness added and a little acidic funk in the middle.
Finish – Cassis finishes with a slightly heavier mouthfeel than the other beers from Lindemans, but in a good way. The carbonation is more noticeable and you’re left with a sweet aftertaste that has a hint of blackberry to it.

Lindemans Pomme (Apple)
The last of the fruity lambics in this list, Pomme (pronounced pum) is Lindemans apple lambic beer. Smooth, with a light body and lots of green apple taste, anyone who loves apples will definitely enjoy this beer.

ABV – 3.5%
Aroma – Green apples up front with tartness you can smell. There is some funky yeast present in the aroma, but what you’re going to get most is tart apple.
Taste – Tart, acidic apples with a slightly earthy undertone. The taste is dominated by apples but the tart lambic taste comes through nicely. Apples are present but don’t rob the overall taste from the lambic.
Finish – Finish is light and tart with some lasting apple flavor. The mouthfeel is medium and somewhat acidic with a puckering effect, but overall a great experience.

Lindemans Faro
Faro (pronounced fair-oh) is a sugary lambic that focuses on the sweet aspect of the beer, giving it a sweet yet complex body that’s far more than just sugar. This style of lambic beer while fairly common in and around Brussels is very uncommon in the US.

The sugar added to this beer helps to balance out the acidic tartness that is common with lambic beers while adding unique aromas and tastes like brown sugar with a crisp, refreshing finish. It’s worth noting that Lindemans Faro does not contain any of the grain farro, the name similarity being only coincidental.

ABV – 4.2%
Aroma – Sweet with a slightly sour undertone. Brown sugar or molasses can be picked up slightly as well.
Taste – The taste is focused on sweetness, but is definitely not overpowering. Slightly sour with lots of sweetness. Some funky herbal notes can be picked up on the end.
Finish – Faro finishes sweet with a lighter-than-expected mouthfeel. A hint of citrus can be detected on the finish, but not enough to warrant too much note. Overall, this is a sweet and funky beer that holds true to a style that started when a barkeep added sugar syrup to a lambic to make it more appealing for some clientele.

Lindemans Cuvee Renee (Gueuze Lambic)
In the world of lambic beers, the Gueuze is the granddaddy of them all. This type of lambic has no fruit flavors to it, but instead relies on the barley and wheat as well as the wild yeast to give it flavor. Gueuzes are blends of three different years of lambics, which are most often 1 year, 2 year, and 3-year-old beers. While the older lambic has used up its sugars completely, making it very dry, the newer lambic provides more sugars to keep the yeast active.

Gueuzes are complex and very interesting lambic beers. They offer cidery, acidic flavors that are definitely great and still retain some sweetness from the lambic style.

ABV – 5.2%
Aroma – Slightly sour and reminiscent of champagne. Slight fruity aroma even though there is no fruit in this lambic. Yeasty and funky aromas stick to the edges, making for a very complex and appealing aroma.
Taste – Slightly acidic but not sour, the taste is similar to a dry cider without the apple tastes.
Finish – Dry and slightly puckery finish leaves you wanting another drink. The carbonation gives this beer a light mouthfeel and overall great complex taste.

Lindemans can be found on draft as well as in bottles throughout the Pittsburgh area, and is proudly distributed by Frank B. Fuhrer Wholesale.

Bolo – Deep Sea Fishing – Florida

Icon Written by admin on November 7, 2014 – 12:59 am

Bolo – Deep Sea Fishing – Florida                                 By: Joyce Campisi

Our travels this month took us to the sunshine state – Florida, where we explored the beaches and amazing sports fishing around Pompano Beach. I have to admit; I’m not a fisherman or is it fisherwoman? However, I have always had fond memories of taking my children deep sea fishing when they were young and feeling a bit nostalgic, I wanted to relive those days. After doing my research on the best deep sea fishing excursions I found the overwhelming consensus of reviews from other tourists and locals were all pointing me in the direction of Bolo Sports Fishing Charters. Besides the rave reviews, the really exciting thing was the price, only $99 per person. Not only will Bolo make your experience amazing they will also do it at an extremely affordable rate without sacrificing service, quality and safety!

After all, Bolo Fishing Charters is the longest established sport fishing charter Boat Company in Florida, operating continuously since 1962 from the Hillsboro Inlet Marina in Pompano Beach and the Cover Marina in Deerfield Beach. Their boats are classic, custom-built Whiticar with interiors done in teak and mahogany. Completely updated and outfitted with the latest state of the art equipment. Bolo Fishing Charters has the largest fleet of “6 Pack” charter boats in South Florida.

Their Captains are all US Coast Guard licensed and highly experienced in fishing Florida’s waters. Bolo Captains and professional Mates guarantee the success and safety of your trip. Only one mile from the Gulf Stream, the local waters are warm year-round and offer many types of fish including Sailfish, Swordfish, Mahi-Mahi, King Mackerel, Wahoo, Tuna, Barracuda, Grouper, Snapper, Amberjack, Cobia and different species of shark from Bull sharks to Hammerheads.

Our adventure began very early on an absolutely beautiful morning; as we arrived we were pleasantly greeted and briefed about our trip by our Captain and Mate. We set sail along with 3 other passengers anxiously waiting to get started. As we made our way out, we passed by million dollar mansions which was a huge bonus, being able to view gated housing developments, OMG that’s the only word I can use to describe these incredible homes.

Our captain and mate were highly experienced in the Gulfstream waters and specifically the South Florida Gold Coastline, but they all have one thing in mind to guarantee everyone has fun no matter your level of fishing experience. They make sure everyone has a great fishing experience whether this is your first trip or if you’re an experienced top of the line fisherman or somewhere in between. The nice thing about Bolo is that they use the share system, which means everyone takes turns reeling in fish and sharing the entire catch. Thank goodness for the 2 men that were onboard with us… one of them, a first time fisherman, caught a 60 inch sailfish! Wow it was an amazing catch and he worked really hard to reel it in. The mate told us that some people fish a lifetime and never catch a sailfish, we were all so excited. Sailfish are catch and release if you don’t want to have them mounted (approximate cost to mount a sailfish is $1500). I must tell you, it made me personally so happy to see him being released knowing he got to swim and live for another day! Go fish go!! It was certainly a thrill of a lifetime just seeing him up close. Sailfish in my opinion are such magnificent and beautiful fish!


As the morning progressed, we all caught several huge King Mackerel and Bonita which is a bait fish! All in all it was nothing but nonstop action and FUN, FUN, FUN with lots of muscle and reeling power, we all got a great exhilarating workout! I can tell you everyone onboard had an awesome experience, made some new friends and memories that will last a lifetime not to mention that we all left with truly fresh caught amazing fish for dinner professionally filleted by our first mate! Yum!

For more information or reservations – plan ahead and build this experience and amazing adventure into your next Florida vacation visit – Be sure and tell them your friends from Nightwire sent you!



Icon Written by admin on October 5, 2014 – 3:34 pm

willow restaurant


Pittsburgh’s Willow Restaurant, located in the North Hills on Camp Horne Road reopened to the public on Monday, September 22, 2014 following an extensive $300,000 interior and exterior renovation. The renovations and new menu bring a casual, modern feel to this neighborhood eatery.

Highlights of the renovations include structural changes that increased the size of the bar and lounge areas. They added two garage-door-style walls that open to a 50 seat patio. Upstairs was totally renovated expanding their event venue so they can now accommodate both small and larger events and parties up to 150 guests.

The menu at the Willow has been overhauled and updated under the guidance of S+P Restaurant Group’s acclaimed Chef Brian Pekarcik and Executive Chef, John Mottinger. Cuisine now features more contemporary ingredients and promotes casual sharing. Menu items feature twists on classic dishes and comfort food, such as taquitos with duck confit, lobster roll bits and spicy tuna flatbread. Their dinner menu includes hand crafted burgers, gourmet sandwiches and fresh salads. On their small plates menu you will find items like, charred shishito, beef tartare, rabbit & dumpling and boar ribs just to name a few. Their large plates menu offers a wide variety of options from pork chops, Eichner’s farm fresh chicken, Scottish salmon, black grouper, pasta carbonara to filet of beef. Prices range from $8 to $29.

Lunch is served with daily offerings of burgers, gourmet sandwiches, salads, small plates and flatbreads. Lunch prices range from $8 to $19.

Willow now joins the S+P Restaurant Group, owned by Rick Stern and Chef Brian Pekarcik. S+P Restaurant Group encompasses four premier Pittsburgh restaurants. BRGR a go-to spot for stacked burgers and spiked shakes with locations in East Liberty, Cranberry and PNC Park, BRGR also hits the road with its Food Truck and plans to open a South Hills location this fall. Grit and Grace, an Asian inspired fine-dining restaurant located in downtown Pittsburgh features small plates and delicious cocktails bringing a unique but perfectly balanced dining experience. Spoon located in East Liberty offers an intimate and modern dining experience with savory, inventive dishes that support local farmers and artisanal purveyors. Willow, inspired by the idyllic grounds that surround the restaurant in the North Hills boasts a simple menu of Contemporary American delights and offers a charming escape.


634 Camp Horne Rd, Pittsburgh, PA 15237

Reservations: 412.847.1007


Lunch, Monday – Saturday: 11:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Dinner, Monday – Thursday: 4:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.

Dinner, Friday – Saturday: 4:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.

Sunday, Dinner Only: 4:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Happy Hour Monday–Saturday: 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

What’s Up, BrewDog

Icon Written by admin on October 5, 2014 – 3:33 pm

What’s Up, BrewDog?                                                                            By: Brian Meyer

So what’s a BrewDog? It’s easier to tell you what it’s not, actually. It’s not simple, boring beer, it’s not the average brewery, and it’s definitely not anything you’d expect. It is however some pretty great beer made by 2 guys in Scotland.

It all started in 2007 with 2 guys and a dog that were tired of the boring beers they could find in their home town of Scotland and across much of the United Kingdom. From this need for better beer The BrewDog Brewery was founded. While their beginnings were pretty small, they’ve grown to be one of the most unique and outspoken craft breweries around today.

In 2010 BrewDog opened their first BrewDog bar in their hometown of Aberdeen Scotland and also came out with what was then the world’s most expensive beer, known as the End of History. Coming in at 55% ABV, this was no typical beer, especially when you see the packaging!

Skip ahead one more year and now there are 4 BrewDog bars throughout the United Kingdom and BrewDog released a 28% ABV beer that was fermented at the bottom of the ocean. Hopefully by now you’re starting to get the idea that the BrewDog guys are pretty different than any other brewery out there by far.

Fast-forward to today and there are 13 BrewDog bars in three countries and BrewDog offers a total of 11 beers around the year with some oddballs thrown in seasonally. Before getting into the beer though, there’s more story behind these BrewDogs that’s worth hearing.

Watt and Dickie

BrewDog was founded by James Watt and Martin Dickie in 2007 and today are true rock stars in the craft beer world. They have helped each other not only move away form the boring beer that’s available everywhere, but instead to push the limits of what brewing is and what it can be. As mentioned above, they’ve brewed the world’s strongest beer, released beer in taxidermy bottles (seriously) and fermented a beer on the ocean floor.

BrewDog is known for the wild and the crazy, and lately they’ve be best known for their hit TV show aptly named BrewDogs where they travel the United States brewing extreme beer with their favorite breweries around the country.

If you ask James and Martin, they’ll tell you they’re just two punks with a single mission, and that’s to make as many people as possible as excited about craft beer as they are, and that’s no small order.

BrewDogs the Show

Watt and Dickie weren’t happy with serving and selling great beer, they actually wanted to convert what they call “craft beer virgins” to the cause. They do this with their amazing bars that only sell great beer and recently they’ve done this with their TV show on Esquire network, BrewDogs. While BrewDog may brew wild and crazy beers, their standard lineup of bottles and drafts, while unique, has something for just about everybody.

The show follows the Scottish beer makers throughout the United States as they visit their favorite breweries and craft beer cities as they try new beers and brew beers crafted specifically for those cities. For example, they brewed a beer in San Francisco using captured fog for water and seaweed from the Dan Diego kelp forest.

The Beer

Sure, the history and story behind BrewDog is great, but what you really care about is the beer, right? Luck for you BrewDog is making their triumphant return to the Pittsburgh area this month with two IPAs, a honey-infused Scotch ale, and a black ale; a seemingly perfect mix to welcome BrewDog back into the area.

Punk IPA – Starting things off is one of the most popular beers that BrewDog offers, their Punk IPA. The guys from BrewDog are the first to tell you they make beer for punks, and this seems to be the flagship for this ideal. Coming in at a respectable 5.6%, Punk IPA features tropical fruit and a hint of caramel in the aroma, but once you get a taste of this beer you’ll find a wealth of New Zealand hops that give the beer its fruity yet bitter taste.

Punk is the perfect beer to pair with spicy foods as well as great to drink outside on the porch in the last few warm days we have left before the world of stouts and porters takes over. Punk should show you that even though BrewDog is an extreme brewery, they know how to make a great IPA that can be drinkable, too.

  • ABV: 5.6%
  • IBU: 45
  • Hops: Chinook, Simcoe, Ahtanum, and Nelson Sauvin

Hardcore Imperial IPA – While Punk is a clean, lower ABV beer that’s bitter yet refreshing, Hardcore IPA is where things start to get a little extreme. Hardcore is a 9.2% imperial IPA that’s in your face bitter, so much so that it’s listed as having more hops and bitterness than any other beer brewed in the UK! If that doesn’t satisfy a true hophead, nothing will.

Even though Hardcore is more than three times as bitter as Punk IPA, it still remains drinkable and while you probably won’t be sitting down and drinking these in session, you’ll enjoy every bit of the one you do have and get excited for the next. The secret to the huge hop aroma that comes with the bitterness is a massive dose of dry-hopping that twists the beer into something truly amazing.

  • ABV: 9.2%
  • IBU: 150
  • Hops: Centennial, Columbus, Simcoe

Libertine Black Ale – Looking for a darker, toastier beer that still has a real hop kick to it? Libertine Black Ale is just the beer for you then. This beer has the malt flavors and alcohol content of a stout and the hop profile of a single hop IPA. Much like their other beers, the hop profile of this beer only goes to make it more drinkable and enjoyable and even though it has more bitterness than some IPAs, it’s still tastes just about perfect.

Brewed using only one type of hops, Libertine uses Simcoe to give a unique and unadulterated taste unlike any you’ve had before.

  • ABV: 7.2%
  • IBU: 65
  • Hops: Simcoe

Dogma – No list of beers from Scotland would be complete without a Scotch ale in the ranks, and Dogma helps out in strides with this. Unlike most beers that are brewed with anywhere from 1-3 types of malts, Dogma is crafted using 10 different malts to give it a solid malt backbone that’s even further supported with Scottish heather honey.

Coming in at a solid 7.4% ABV, Dogma is more than your average Scotch ale, especially with the heavy-handed dose of hops that aren’t usually seen in this style of beer. Well balanced and with enough sweet and hops for everyone to love, this is probably the beer you’ve been looking for. Trust me.

  • ABV: 7.4%
  • IBU: 65
  • Hops: Saaz and First Gold

BrewDog is proudly brought to you in Western Pennsylvania by Vecenie Distributing

The Return of Ballantine India Pale Ale

Icon Written by admin on October 5, 2014 – 3:32 pm

The Return of Ballantine India Pale Ale                            By: Brian Meyer

It all started with a mystery. Well, with the purchase of a long-forgotten brewery brand and a mystery that is. When Pabst Brewing acquired the Ballantine brand in 2005 they weren’t 100% sure what they would do with it, but they did know they wanted to keep the memory of the old brewery alive.

Master brewer Greg Deuhs took it upon himself to memorialize the old brewery the best way he knew how, and that was by resurrecting their iconic Ballantine India Pale Ale. After two years of research and test batches brewed in his own kitchen, Deuhs and Pabst have come up with a beer that is as close to the original as possible. At this point you’re probably wondering why they didn’t just pull up the old recipe, scale it to fit their current system and brew away. Well, that’s where the mystery comes in.

The Mystery of Ballantine IPA

Before the time of computers and digital file storage, things like recipes and procedures for brewing beer were stored the old fashioned way, on paper at the brewery. Copies were made for day to day brewing, and the originals were kept in a safe or locked cabinet. When the brewery was shuttered in the 1960s it is believed that the original recipes were lost to exiting employees who may very well have the original Ballantine India Pale Ale recipe in their attic or basement still today.

Deuhs and Pabst unlocked this mystery by studying the ingredients available at the time, talking to experts in past brewing practices, and best of all, by brewing batches and having people familiar with the brand taste them.

While we’ll never know how close the newest iteration of Ballantine IPA is to the original, the important thing is that it really is a great beer.

The Original

The original Ballantine IPA used some pretty interesting brewing practices to craft the iconic beer, many of which are far too costly or difficult to do on a large scale today. One such practice is the aging of the original beer in oak barrels for 6-12 months. While some higher-cost beers today do this, aging a standard IPA today like this would be far too time consuming as well as resource consuming as well.

This practice has been replaced with aging the beer on toasted oak spirals now, which is a newer brewing practice that requires far less time and oak to get the same flavor and profile.

The original Ballantine India Pale Ale also used a complex hopping system that involved grinding up the fresh hops and cooking them in a partial vacuum to extract their oils. While using hop oil is a practice today, this unique method yielded a very specific taste and bitterness that is hard to duplicate, even though it seems to have been by the brewers at Pabst.

The original IPA also used ingredients that aren’t that common today, and required quite a bit of testing to find suitable replacements for. Some of the hops believed to have been used in the original Ballantine beer are hard to come by for small batches and nearly impossible to find for full-scale production. These hops were profiled and suitable replacements were found when necessary.

Fact From Fiction

Any brewery that’s been around since the 1840s is bound to have equal parts fact and fiction included in their story, and Ballantine is no different. The Ballantine Brewing Co. was founded in 1840 in Newark, New Jersey by Peter Ballantine, an immigrant originally from Scotland. The original brewery’s name was the Patterson & Ballantine Brewing Company, but in 1850 Peter bought out his partner and had his three sons join him in the family business.

In 1857 with his sons onboard, the name of the brewery was changed to P. Ballantine and Sons, a name it carried with it until 1972 when the brewery closed up shop.

The brewery changed hands a few times over the years, peaking at the 3rd largest brewery in the US in the 1950s before finally starting to decline in the 1960s, as the brand’s beers started to be contracted out and quality decreased. Beer has been produced up until the late 1980s with the Ballantine name, even though the beer itself was a far cry from its glory days.

Jumping ahead to today, the Ballantine name is back and the same focus on quality and taste is once again a focal point for the brand. The revived Ballantine India Pale Ale is not only a great IPA for today, but a great representation of what possibly the first American IPA tasted like.

The Beer

History is great, but enjoying a Ballantine IPA is what you really should want. The beer itself uses four different malts and eight different hops, including a special hop oil addition in lieu of the standard dry hopping. Even though there’s quite a bit of bitterness and hop flavor in this beer, there’s still a nice balance between the malt and the hops, but still leans more towards the bitter side of things, as an American IPA should.

The beer pours clear and bright with a frothy white head. The aroma is very hop forward with some caramel malt in the back. Overall it’s a fresh hoppy aroma that makes your mouth water.

As for the first taste, the first thing you should notice is a slight malty sweetness followed up by a hit of hoppy citrus and bitterness. The hops transition as you taste the beer from citrus to resin with some slight piney tastes. The finish continues to be hoppy and it leaves a lasting bitterness even after you swallow.

The oak chips perfectly mellow the beer out just enough to keep it from being harsh, but allow it to carry though all the hop flavor you’d expect from an American IPA. Even though this beer comes in at 7.2% ABV and 70 IBUs, it retains quite a bit of drinkability.

Overall, Ballantine India Pale Ale is a world-class beer that is thankfully available for us to drink again. Crisp, clean, and hoppy enough for any hop head, this beer is one you need to try.

You can find Ballantine IPA in 12oz bottles, 6-packs, 750ml large bottles, and on draft.

Ballantine IPA can be found in the best craft beer bars, bottle shops, and distributors throughout Pittsburgh and is proudly distributed by Galli Wholesale.

British Beer Variety With Wells and Young’s

Icon Written by admin on October 5, 2014 – 3:30 pm

British Beer Variety With Wells and Young’s                       by: Brian Meyer

Few will argue that the brewing history behind British beers is not to be trifled with. The British perfected quite a few of the brewing practices and beer styles that we hold dear today. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that some of the best beers to welcome the fall and winter months come from no other than two brewers from, you guessed it, England.

Wells & Young’s, while producing two different lines of beers are actually one large brewery that calls England its home. This brewery is firmly seated as the largest private brewer in all of England, and is known for their enviable list of beers and even cask ales that are primarily distributed in England. While a British brewer, quite a few of their best beers make it to our shores, and this time of year is the best to experience them.

Sip on Some History

The original Wells and Young’s Brewery started in 1876 when Charles Wells made a drastic career change from being a Chief Officer in the Merchant Navy and bought a brewery with 32 pubs in his hometown of Bedford. The jump in careers was, as the story goes, done to win the trust of his soon-to-be father-in-law as to win his approval in marrying his daughter.

The move was a success and along with being happily married and having many children, Wells went on to steadily grow both the brewery as well as the pubs associated with it into the 1890s, when the brewery produced over 12,500 barrels of beer and had 80 pubs associated with the brewery.

As time went on, Wells’ children, grandchildren, and so on continued to play a vital role in the brewery, helping it expand to other breweries in towns like St. Neots, Newport Pagnall, and Northamption.

Fast forward to today and there are over 200 pubs associated with the brewery and their beers are exported to more than 40 countries around the world. With some of their currently-offered beers having been brewed for 200 years and counting, Wells and Young’s seems to be doing something right.

The brewery today is still owned by the Wells family, and the family continues to grow, making sure there are more than enough family members to continue carrying on the family tradition for years to come.

So where does the Young’s part of the brewery name come in? Well, in 2006 The Wells Brewery merged with Young and Co. of Wandsworth in London to officially become Wells and Young’s. IT was this merger than made the brewery the largest family-owned brewery in the UK, and it’s why we can get so many amazing beers here today.

The Beer

While Wells and Young’s offers a lengthy list of amazing beers, we’re going to focus on some of the most apt beers for the coming season. With tastes of chocolate, toffee pudding, banana bread, and even a traditional bitter from England, these beers fit into the change of seasons perfectly.

It’s worth noting that nearly every beer mentioned below save Sticky Toffee Pudding Ale are all available year-round. They just tend to be even better when it starts to get chilly.

Wells Bombardier – An iconic beer that’s loaded with real British heritage, Bombardier is a rich and full-bodied beer that’s reminiscent of classic English cask ales, but in a bottle. Bombardier has a medium copper color that features aromas of peppery English hops and malty, bready aromas with a slight caramel note.

The taste is focused on a sharp earthy hop profile that’s supported by a solid dose of malt to balance it out. Made in the traditional English Extra Special Bitter style, Bombardier is perfect for year-round drinking and is available as such. Bombardier is available in the US and is 5.2% ABV.

Bonus: In English advertisements and online, comedy legend Rik Mayall plays the Bombardier in a variety of hilarious ads that are perfectly suited for his style of Young Ones comedy.

Wells Banana Bread Beer – Who doesn’t love the smell of a warm loaf of banana bread cooking in the oven? Better yet, the taste of that amazing bread is enough to make your mouth water. Wells took this idea and combined it with their traditional beers to make something that truly is the best of both.

With a ripe banana flavor and a hint of bitterness, banana bread beer keeps all the banana flavor and aroma without being overly sweet. The aroma is all bready banana thanks to the malt profile mixing with the real fair-trade bananas used in the brewing process. The taste is a perfect blend of banana, malt, and a hint of hops. Each works with the other to give a blended, balanced taste that isn’t too harsh in any direction. Banana Bread beer is available year-round and comes in at 5.2% ABV.

Wells Sticky Toffee Pudding Ale – The only seasonal offering in this list, Sticky Toffee Pudding Ale is just about exactly what you think it is. An amazing beer that captures the tastes of sticky toffee pudding and distills it down into a beer that is easy to consider a desert beer.

Combining something so quintessential to the British desert landscape as sticky toffee pudding with British beer seems to not only make sense, but to be a match made in the heavens. Sticky Toffee Pudding Ale is a rich, smooth beer that has all the warmth and aromas of its namesake desert without being overly sweet.

An English brown ale at heart, this beer pours a medium brown with a slight off-white head. The aroma is full of toffee and sweet pudding notes, with the taste carrying these notes over, without too much sweetness. The beer is dry on the finish, allowing you to drink more than one at a time without getting a sugar rush.

Wells Sticky Toffee Pudding Ale is available in the Fall and Winter months, and is 5% ABV.

Young’s Double Chocolate Stout – The most award-winning beer in this list, Young’s Double Chocolate Stout is a year-round beer that’s perfect for the folder weather coming. Brewed with pale, crystal, and chocolate malt as well as real dark chocolate and traditional British hops, Double Chocolate Stout is definitely a beer anyone who loves stouts or chocolate needs to try.

This beer pours totally opaque with a foamy tan head. Expect to get lots of malty chocolate on the aroma with that chocolate carrying through to the taste. Toasty chocolate with a hint of hops come through in the outstanding beer that finished creamy with no lasting bitterness, only a want to have another.

Young’s Double Chocolate Stout is available year-round and comes in at 5.2% ABV.

Wells and Young’s can be found on draft as well as in bottles and cans throughout the Pittsburgh area, and is proudly distributed by Frank B. Fuhrer Wholesale.

Round Corner Cantina

Icon Written by admin on October 5, 2014 – 3:26 pm

Round Corner Cantina

Most people when they think of tacos picture the hard yellow shelled things filled with ground beef and orange cheese that we have on a Tuesday nights to accompany our fishbowl sized margaritas at the Mexican chain restaurant down the street. Nothing wrong with them of course, meat and cheese is always a happy addition to the American palate and it is merely our attempt at interpreting another country’s food style. Sadly we are missing the boat as a real taco is truly a thing to behold.

Thankfully the good folks at The Round Corner Cantina exist to steer us in the right direction. They offer authentic Mexican street tacos with upscale ingredients, techniques and presentation but none of the pretension that usually comes along with this combination of skill sets. The staff is timely, knowledgeable and just all around solid citizens that add to the relaxed dining experience.

For starters we had their salsa and guacamole, both wonderful. Fresh produce all around and seasoned to perfection. Little spice just to get the point across and a refreshing change from the overly-salted scorching hot versions employed by some chains to run up your bar tab.

As it was wrapped in bacon, we had to try the Tijuana Street Dog and found it to be moderately life changing. Topped with avocado, crema, pico, queso fresco and a few pieces of jalapeño for good measure, it reaffirms the versatility of a simple tubed meat.

Elote is a traditional street food in Mexico and their version comes equipped with queso fresco, crema and tajin spices. The corn is grilled to perfection to release the sugar soluble flavors trapped within and upon visiting you may never boil your cobs again. Apps ranged from $3.50 to $9.

While they serve a faithfully authentic version of what a proper Mexican taco should be, the Cantina allows itself to respectfully stray from the mold, without dabbling in the dark waters of fusion cuisine. They have simply put their spin on a classic style. Unlike their greasy ground beef Northern cousin, the Cantina uses the traditional double wrapped tortilla filled with slow cooked high quality proteins.

One to definitely keep an eye out for is their Lamb Barbacoa. Slow cooked lamb shank topped with a creamy avocado salsa finished with pickled onions and cilantro. They are in a word, superb, and this reviewer’s order of choice. Thankfully they come two to an order as just one would be cruel.

Another favorite is the Brisket. Generously filled with slow cooked perfectly seasoned beef accompanied by the same fixings as the lamb but topped with an amazingly well fried chicken chicharrone for a little textural contrast to the soft beef. If you have not had the wonder that is deep fried chicken skin, you could visit the Cantina solely for this reason.

Fish taco’s are a subject of worldwide debate and every purveyor has their own tried and true combination by which they swear. Sometimes it’s the choice of fish, sometimes it’s the sauce, even the merits of grilled vs. fried enter into the discussion. At Round Corner they have decided upon a lightly tempura battered Mahi-Mahi topped with a little crema, cabbage, radish and cilantro. A well balanced and flavorful version with the radish adding just the right amount of peppery snap. What’s even better is that tacos are amazingly priced in the $7-$8 range.

For those steering clear of animal proteins, they have even gone as far to create vegetarian options that do not suffer from the loss of meat, rather could stand firmly toe to toe with their other offerings. There are some with tofu, some with seitan and a cauliflower and sweet potato taco that made us question our perceptions of what meat-free could and should be.

While we could go on and on about the taco’s, they only make up a part of the experience. Their drink menu instead of being a hastily added side note, adds as much to the outing as the food. You can find carefully chosen Mexican cervezas, local Pittsburgh suds as well as high end craft beers available by the bottle or the bucket. To increase their Mexican street food cred they even offer several types of Micheladas, our favorite being the Del Sol which simply adds salt and lime to Dos Equis.

But as most looking for a culinary trip south of the border desire, they have margaritas. Not the sickly sweet versions that ensure a headache at work the next day, but finely balanced and uniquely made versions of classics. Not feeling adventurous? Stick to a La Cantina($6), a traditional margarita made with a splash of orange juice. Something different? Go for an El Ray($10), boasting Don Julio Anejo, Combier D’Orange, Lemon, Lime and Chile de Arbol. Or just sip one of their many tequila or mezcals on their spacious back deck that now offers private booths to those who plan ahead.

To finish with a clumsy summation all one can say is this; Rarely does one find a restaurant that has pulled off their culinary vision with the tact and precision found at Round Corner Cantina.

3720 Butler Street


Mon – Wed: 11:45am – 12am

Thurs – Fri: 11:45am – 2am

Sat: 11:45am – 2am

Sun: Brunch 11:45am – 3pm. Open til midnight

21+ after 5pm

Round Corner Cantina on Urbanspoon

Fredericksburg, Texas

Icon Written by admin on October 5, 2014 – 3:22 pm

Fredericksburg, Texas by: Suz Pisano
Recognizing how much fun Nightwire had on our first visit to Texas, our quest to travel throughout the largest State in the Nation–The Lone Star State of Texas, continues. I can’t wait to tell you my about my travels to Texas Hill Country, the quaint and quite historic town of Fredericksburg. Landing in either Austin or San Antonio, Fredericksburg is a short & convenient drive into the Texas landscape easily accessed by highway. It’s one of Texas’ most popular getaways, and recently named #3 of the Top 10 Wine Destinations by Wine Enthusiast!
What?? Wine Country in Texas? Yes, most definitely yes. The Tempranillo and Granache grapes thrive in the temperate Hill Country. Rt. 290 is called the Wine Road; driving along the scenic highway you’ll find so many wineries offering varying specialties of the vast vineyards. My favorite winery that we visited was Grape Creek. The beautiful tasting room was the perfect backdrop for a lazy afternoon with some fruit & wine. Plus it’s always nice to get a tasting with the vintner. Check out a little bit of Tuscany in Texas, We also visited 4.0 Cellars, a modern winery representing a collaboration of 3 separate wineries that came together to make a 4th. Knowledgeable staff will guide you through your tasting of an exceptional array of wines from single varietals to diverse blends. 4.0 Cellars feature Brennan Vineyards, Lost Oak Winery and McPherson Cellars. Texas wines are currently not available in the PLCB system, so it’s a great adventure to try wines by a region most unfamiliar to Pennsylvanians. The best way to search and plan a wine tour is to check out for a comprehensive list of wineries, maps and events.

Lodging in and around Fredericksburg is arranged through a network of Guest Houses & Cottages and B&B’s. With reverence to the German immigrants who founded the town in the mid-1800’s, Gastehaus Schmidt is the go-to for reservation services. Their hand picked properties offer a variety of options tailored to meet every traveler’s needs. I stayed a bit out of town at the lovely Ava Guest House, where I was greeted by my host who had recently finished renovation on an old dairy. The room was comfortable and very charming with an antique vanity and a hand set stone floor in the bathroom where, next to the modern shower, sat a huge claw foot bathtub. The Ava House books a lot of girlfriend get-a-ways and bachelorette & bridal parties, as well as quiet romantic vacations. The fireplace in the main room is a nice place to end your day. A mini-kitchenette houses a coffee maker, microwave and bar sized fridge. After visiting another property, the owner of Baron’s Creekside hosted a shrimp boil for our group after touring his little piece of Switzerland right there in Texas. Swiss owned and with attention to every detail, you’ll fall in love with this unique lodging option. Little log cabins impeccably decorated lend to romance & relaxation. The grounds are full of wildflowers, sculpture and charm. Take a video tour at It’s truly a magical place! One more unique lodging experience is the Hangar Hotel. A favorite amongst pilots who can utilize the airplane hangar onsite, the elegant Officer’s Club or the Hangar Diner. It’s a veritable pilot’s dream!

Dining in & around Fredericksburg you’ll find everything from micro-breweries; Fredericksburg Brewing Company or Pedernales Brewing Company, to the Clear River Pecan Company, where award winning homemade ice cream is ordered with every homemade sandwich or soup! Dinner at Fredericksburg Brewing Company offered great German style beers at the oldest & most acclaimed brew pub in Texas. After a day of wine touring, we were hosted by the Navajo Grill which served up the best in Southern cuisine with old & New Mexico influence along with a touch of New Orleans & Caribbean flavors. Wine was paired with our dinner by Hilmy Cellars. Even in a quaint German town, there’s great food. & for details.

Walking along the historic main street, you can get lost for hours meandering in & out of great little boutiques and shops offering home décor, custom boots or culinary treats. I brought back jalapeño peanut butter, wine, and a great bag for my mom, many gifts & lots of inspiration. The West End Pizza Company is my recommendation for homemade pizza, fresh salad & maybe even some homemade ravioli.

If you’re particularly interested in history- that’s where the Pacific Theatre in World War II takes a prominent place in Fredericksburg, at The National Museum of the Pacific War. This museum is certainly a huge draw to the area with visitors coming from all corners of the globe. It is probably the largest, most organized & comprehensive collection of WWII memorabilia in the country. Located on a six-acre site, the Museum includes the George Bush Gallery, Admiral Nimitz Museum, Pacific Combat Zone, Plaza of Presidents, Memorial Courtyard, Japanese Garden of Peace, and the Nimitz Education and Research Center. The museum has so much to offer, tickets are valid for 48 hours enabling guests to take their time while enjoying the expanse of the complex. A visit to Fredericksburg would not be complete without a drive to the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park. There you can visit the “Texas White House” where LBJ lived during his administration. I was fascinated and enthusiastically encourage you to tour the homestead. Details of the JFK assassination become real seeing the replica cake prepared for this arrival the day of his fateful demise. The LBJ Ranch is not to be missed! You’ll also want to visit the Sauer-Beckman Living History Farmstead. This working farm recreates Texas pioneer life in the 1800’s. Park interpreters wear period clothing and carry out the day-to-day activities as that of a turn-of-the-century Texas-German farm family. While we were there, lunch was being prepared just as it would have in the 1800’s. Sausages handmade & stored in lard were shown off as we were offered a soap making demonstration. This place was really cool. Texas doesn’t mess around with history.

If history isn’t quire your “thing”, don’t worry, culinary adventures await all around this little historic town. Das Peach Haus is a fabulous place where you can sample a myriad of culinary treasures. Their Original roasted Raspberry Chipotle Sauce made them famous. It’s the #1 specialty condiment sold in Texas. You’ll have a hard time picking a favorite; their sauces pair beautifully with cheeses, fruits and even meats. Plus, you gotta love a great story about 2 guys who took a family business from farm to your family’s table. Fischer & Wieser Specialty Foods has grown into a gourmet’s paradise. Their products ARE available locally. Use their store locator to find products close to you. There wasn’t one jelly, sauce, or syrup that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy. If you love cooking, and you know I do- this is an excellent resource for turning the boring & bland into bold & flavorful dishes. Their comprehensive website offers recipes for everything from appetizers to desserts. Definitely check them out at Make sure you head over to Chocolat to meet Lecia Duke, the first creator of European-style liquid-centered chocolate in the U.S. As a self-professed chocoholic, I couldn’t wait to sample her Quintessential Chocolates. The beautiful little Alemandrado Tequila filled chocolate was scrumptious. After studying with a Swiss Master Chocolatiér, utilizing a 200 year old technique, Lecia was able to create these European style confections with an American twist: unprecedented flavors suited to American tastes, to date over 200 distinctively different flavors have been made including numerous spirits, wine varietals, non-alcohol coffee and fruit nectars. Needless to say, I bought a bunch to bring home!

Fredericksburg, Texas is also becoming a destination for bicyclists. It’s described as the “Cycling Capital of Texas”. Where the motto is “Come and ride it”, there are plenty of resources for cyclists looking for an exceptional vacation destination. And, since this IS Hill Country, hiking to Enchanted Rock is an excellent outdoor adventure. The massive pink granite dome rising above Central Texas has drawn people for thousands of years. But there’s more at Enchanted Rock State Natural Area than just the dome. The scenery, rock formations and legends are magical. You can hike, backpack, camp, rock climb, picnic, bird watch, study nature, geocache and stargaze. (You cannot swim here or ride bikes on the trails.)

My time in Fredericksburg was a whirlwind; jam-packed with activity and highlighted by the people of this small community. Tourism is their specialty and when there’s a place that literally has something for everyone, it’s easy to recommend with confidence that you’ll enjoy something off the beaten path. An ideal trip for me would be a flying into Austin or San Antonio, spending a few days in the city & then taking a beautiful, not too long, drive to Hill Country. It would be like a get-a-way from your get-a-way. Speaking of get-a-ways, I would be completely remiss if I failed to mention a short drive out of Fredericksburg that landed us in Luckenbach, Texas. Yes, that town with a population of 2, complete with it own Post Office/Bar, and made famous by Waylon Jennings song, Luckenbach, Texas This is where you will find live music, cold beer along with chickens running around, an occasional cock-a-doodle-doo and happy folks to round out the scenery. “Everybody’s somebody in Luckenbach”, it’s a state of mind, and if you happen upon this Dance Hall, Post Office, Bar, Live Music Jam, I completely agree. Directions on how to get there are easily accessed at

For more information on Fredericksburg, Texas please visit

Round Corner Cantina

Icon Written by admin on July 28, 2014 – 7:28 pm

Round Corner Cantina By: Dan Calig

Most people when they think of tacos picture the hard yellow shelled things filled with ground beef and orange cheese that we have on a Tuesday nights to accompany our fishbowl sized margaritas at the Mexican chain restaurant down the street. Nothing wrong with them of course, meat and cheese is always a happy addition to the American palate and it is merely our attempt at interpreting another country’s food style. Sadly we are missing the boat as a real taco is truly a thing to behold.

Thankfully the good folks at The Roundcorner Cantina exist to steer us in the right direction. They offer authentic Mexican street tacos with upscale ingredients, techniques and presentation but none of the pretension that usually comes along with this combination of skill sets. The staff is timely, knowledgeable and just all around solid citizens that add to the relaxed dining experience.

For starters we had their salsa and guacamole, both wonderful. Fresh produce all around and seasoned to perfection. Little spice just to get the point across and a refreshing change from the the overly-salted scorchingly hot versions employed by some chains to run up your bar tab.

As it was wrapped in bacon, we had to try the Tijuana Street Dog and found it to be moderately life changing. Topped with avocado, crema, pico, queso fresco and a few pieces of jalapeño for good measure, it reaffirms the versatility of a simple tubed meat.

Elote is a traditional street food in Mexico and their version comes equipped with queso fresco, crema and tajin spices. The corn is grilled to perfection to release the sugar soluble flavors trapped within and upon visiting you may never boil your cobs again. Apps ranged from $3.50 to $9.

While they serve a faithfully authentic version of what a proper Mexican taco should be, the Cantina allows itself to respectfully stray from the mold, without dabbling in the dark waters of fusion cuisine. They have simply put their spin on a classic style. Unlike their greasy ground beef Northern cousin, the Cantina uses the traditional double wrapped tortilla filled with slow cooked high quality proteins.

One to definitely keep an eye out for is their Lamb Barbacoa. Slow cooked lamb shank topped with a creamy avocado salsa finished with pickled onions and cilantro. They are in a word, superb, and this reviewer’s order of choice. Thankfully they come two to an order as just one would be cruel.

Another favorite is the Brisket. Generously filled with slow cooked perfectly seasoned beef accompanied by the same fixings as the lamb but topped with an amazingly well fried chicken chicharrone for a little textural contrast to the soft beef. If you have not had the wonder that is deep fried chicken skin, you could visit the Cantina solely for this reason.

Fish taco’s are a subject of worldwide debate and every purveyor has their own tried and true combination by which they swear. Sometimes it’s the choice of fish, sometimes it’s the sauce, even the merits of grilled vs. fried enter into the discussion. At Round Corner they have decided upon a lightly tempura battered Mahi-Mahi topped with a little crema, cabbage, radish and cilantro. A well balanced and flavorful version with the radish adding just the right amount of peppery snap. What’s even better is that tacos are amazingly priced in the $7-$8 range.

For those steering clear of animal proteins, they have even gone as far to create vegetarian options that do not suffer from the loss of meat, rather could stand firmly toe to toe with their other offerings. There are some with tofu, some with seitan and a cauliflower and sweet potato taco that made us question our perceptions of what meat-free could and should be.

While we could go on and on about the taco’s, they only make up a part of the experience. Their drink menu instead of being a hastily added side note, adds as much to the outing as the food. You can find carefully chosen Mexican cervezas, local Pittsburgh suds as well as high end craft beers available by the bottle or the bucket. To increase their Mexican street food cred they even offer several types of Micheladas, our favorite being the Del Sol which simply adds salt and lime to Dos Equis.

But as most looking for a culinary trip south of the border desire, they have margaritas. Not the sickly sweet versions that ensure a headache at work the next day, but finely balanced and uniquely made versions of classics. Not feeling adventurous? Stick to a La Cantina($6), a traditional margarita made with a splash of orange juice. Something different? Go for an El Ray($10), boasting Don Julio Anejo, Combier D’Orange, Lemon, Lime and Chile de Arbol. Or just sip one of their many tequila or mezcals on their spacious back deck that now offers private booths to those who plan ahead.

To finish with a clumsy summation all one can say is this; Rarely does one find a restaurant that has pulled off their culinary vision with the tact and precision found at Round Corner Cantina.

3720 Butler Street
Mon – Wed: 11:45am – 12am
Thurs – Fri: 11:45am – 2am
Sat: 11:45am – 2am
Sun: Brunch 11:45am – 3pm. Open til midnight
21+ after 5pm

Round Corner Cantina on Urbanspoon

Alltech Lexington Brewing Company

Icon Written by admin on July 28, 2014 – 7:17 pm

Alltech Lexington Brewing Company                    by: Brian Meyer

There was a time when if you wanted the tastes of beer and bourbon you would order a shot and a beer, but with 5 generations of coopers in his past, the founder of Alltech Lexington Brewing Company, Dr. Pearse Lyons believed there was a much better way of combining these tastes into one amazing package. Originally from Ireland and with a rich family history in the barrel-making world, Dr. Lyons set out to found a brewery that not only held to the tenants of craft beer, but with the unique twist of using freshly decanted bourbon barrels to age the beer for six weeks to impart bourbon and oak notes into the beer without adding any alcoholic hotness.

This beer, Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale, has become what Alltech Lexington Brewing Co. is best known for and for good reason. While Bourbon Barrel Ale is far from the only beer the Kentucky brewery offers, it is definitely the most unique. While there are other beers that tout their time in barrels of various alcohols, this one is in a class of its own.


The Alltech Lexington Brewing Co. actually started when the original Lexington Brewing Company closed its doors in 1999. The history of Lexington brewing and distilling goes back into the 1790s, and with this rich history in mind, Dr. Lyons felt he had to continue the heritage and reopen the brewery with a focus on what Kentucky does best: bourbon.

Before beer started going into the charred oak barrels that recently held some of the best bourbon in Kentucky, Lexington Brewing made a few styles that required less time to make, but still are unique in of themselves. The first beer ever brewed in the newly reopened brewery was Kentucky Ale with Kentucky Kölsch following closely behind.

It was on this foundation that the flagship Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale was launched, immediately receiving an enormous level of attention and garnering numerous awards, including a silver medal at both the World Beer Cup and The Great American Beer Festival. With 98% of the world’s bourbon produced in Kentucky, it only makes sense that Dr. Lyons would choose this to be the home of his brewery.

Speaking of Dr. Lyons, his brewing history is something to be appreciated, too. Dr. Lyons spent his earlier non-doctored years interning for both Guinness and Harp Lager breweries, and even became the first Irishman to achieve a formal degree in brewing and distilling from the British School of Malting and Brewing. With over 100 years of history, it’s an understatement to say this school knows how to teach brewing.

The Beer

There are currently three beers being offered from Lexington Brewing in Pittsburgh, and all three are pretty amazing. Each of the three beers listed below are only available on draft currently in Pittsburgh, so make sure to check out your favorite craft beer tap spot to get your own to try.

Kentucky Ale

First up is Lexington Brewing’s original beer: Kentucky Ale. This beer merges two unique styles to make a beer that’s definitely different than anything you’ve had before. Kentucky Ale merges an Irish Red Ale with a British Pale Ale, giving the beer a great body malty sweet aroma, and fresh, clean taste that has the malty undertones of an Irish Red.

Light amber in color, this beer uses a tiny bit of malted wheat to give a richer, smoother taste. Much like Kentucky bourbon, Kentucky Ale owes some of tis unique taste to the water drawn from limestone aquifers under the Bluegrass region of Kentucky.

Beer Name – Kentucky Ale

Style – English Pale Ale

ABV – 5.34%

Appearance – Amber, leaning slightly towards red.

Aroma – Kentucky Ale has a light aroma that’s malty sweet with a hint of toasty character.

Taste – Very fresh taste up front with a toasty malt middle. The taste leans more towards an Irish Red but the body is closer to an English Pale Ale.

Finish – Clean finish with a slight malty aftertaste. Overall there is little to no bitterness present in Kentucky Ale.

Overall – The overall impression of this beer is clean and crisp with the toasty, maltiness that people love about Irish red ales. It has less of a body than a typical Irish red, which makes it far easier to drink in session.

Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale

The flagship beer for Lexington Brewing, Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale is one of the most unique beers to be aged in oak bourbon barrels. While there are quite a few bourbon beers on the market, this beer specifically has so many characteristics of the oak bourbon barrels it lives in for six weeks that you might wonder what magic has been added to the beer.

Nothing special is added to this beer except the specialized aging process that starts in barrels that have been emptied of their bourbon prize literally hours before being re-filled with soon-to-be Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale.

When you try this beer the first thing you’ll notice is the subtle flavors of vanilla and oak that give way to a creamy toffee aroma and taste and finish. At 8.19% ABV, this is definitely a sipping beer, which is exactly what the strong bourbon character is perfect for.

Beer Name – Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale

Style – English Strong Ale

ABV – 8.19%

Appearance – Pours medium amber with a white head that fades to a ring.

Aroma – The aroma is soft and oaky with a definite note of bourbon. Vanilla and toffee show through clearly.

Taste – The first taste is toasty with some toffee and vanilla. The oak and bourbon influence come through strong in the middle and carry all the way through to the end.

Finish – Toffee candy with a light bourbon taste. This beer is all bourbon and oak from start to finish.

Overall – Creamy, bourbon-heavy with notes of vanilla and toffee candy, this beer is definitely unique and definitely amazing. No bitterness is detectable while other flavors step in to fill its shoes perfectly.

Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Stout

If Bourbon Barrel Ale is the mature, refined member of the family then Bourbon Barrel Stout is the complex, artsy brother that has a lot going on. In one word, this beer is amazing.

At first glance this completely opaque black beer looks like any other stout you might find, but as soon as you smell it that all changes. Bourbon Barrel Stout has the same bourbon and oak notes found in its lighter-colored brother but adds in complex tastes of Haitian coffee and dark-roasted malts.

You’ll pick up a little bit of alcoholic taste in this stout, but in a very good way. The alcohol pairs perfectly with the vanilla from the oak and bourbon and the coffee to make an outstanding beer. If you like bourbon, coffee, or dark beers this is just about perfect for you.

Beer Name – Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Stout

Style – American Double / Imperial Stout

ABV – 8%

Appearance – Completely black with a light tan head.

Aroma – Dark coffee, alcohol, slight bourbon on the end.

Taste – Coffee up front with a middle that’s all vanilla and bourbon.

Finish – This beer finishes up with slightly bitter, strong coffee. The bourbon notes on the finish help to mellow this out.

Overall – This beer is very complex and has a lot to offer a fairly wide audience. The coffee is strong in both aroma and taste, and that strong taste pairs up perfectly with the vanilla and bourbon notes. This is definitely a beer to try.

Alltech Lexington Brewing beers can be found throughout Pittsburgh and are proudly distributed by Galli Wholesale.

Stone Brewing

Icon Written by admin on July 28, 2014 – 7:13 pm

Stone Brewing Company                         by: Brian Meyer

It takes a special kind of brewery to come right out and call their beer “liquid Arrogance” but that’s exactly what Stone Brewing Co. did with their Arrogant Bastard Ale. While this is far from the only beer that Stone Brewing makes, it is quite possibly the most extreme and aggressive. To be arrogant means someone has an exaggerated sense of his or her own importance or abilities, but with Stone’s beer, the feeling of superiority is justified.

Stone Brewing Co. was founded in 1996 by Greg Koch (pronounced “cook”) and Steve Wagner in San Marcos, CA. The first keg of beer ever produced by the brewery was their Stone Pale Ale, which is still one of their year-round beers today. The aforementioned Arrogant Bastard Ale was released shortly thereafter in November of 1997.

In their first year of brewing Stone brewed 400 barrels of beer (that’s 800 standard kegs), which was dwarfed by the 2,100 barrels brewed in 1997, making for a 118% increase in production for their second year! This enormous growth has continued throughout Stone’s history, never dropping below a 13% year-to-year increase and averaging over 25% every year. The 13% was even only due to reaching maximum capacity at their original brewery. Without this enforced cap there would have been an easy 30% or more increase.

Jump ahead to today and Stone Brewing produced 213,277 barrels in 2013 alone. This huge number should stand to show how consistently great Stone’s beers have been and continue to be. Today Stone Brewing Co. brews out of their Escondido, CA brewery, which they’ve been in since 2005. Along with the new brewery Stone also opened Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens in 2006. This amazing beer garden and world-class restaurant reflects the idea that is Stone Brewing.

Not only looking to make amazing beer, Stone Brewing has even taken steps to make their beer green! While we’re not talking about the fizzy yellow beer with food coloring in it, this instead speaks to Stone’s move to install solar panels on the roof of their brewery in 2008. These 1,561 roof-mounted solar panels offset more than 530,000 pounds of CO2 emissions, which is roughly equal to planting 200 acres of trees! Finally a green beer that even the most arrogant of beer lovers can get behind.

The Beers

Stone has an amazing lineup of beers, but it’s their core beers that get the most love and are also the ones you’re most likely to find at your favorite craft beer bar, six-pack shop, or distributor.

Stone Brewing sees themselves as leading the fight against “yellow, fizzy beer” by producing some of the most intensely-hopped beers available today. These beers pack a punch of hops, bitterness, and alcohol that makes for more of a drinking experience than session beers tend to offer.

Stone IPA

The big brother to the original Stone Brewing beer, this American IPA is as close to a perfect India Pale Ale as you can get. Hoppier and higher in alcohol than Stone Pale Ale, this beer pours a golden color and has lots of citrus flavors in the aroma as well as the taste. Stone IPA is the definition of what a West-Coast IPA should be, and rightfully so.

While the hop profile is up front and center, the malt backbone is steady and constant, giving this beer a great balance between malty and bitter. You should expect to get lots of grapefruit in the taste with enough bitterness to make it balanced, without going overboard.

The IPA style was originally created to be refreshing in the heat, and Stone IPA is just that. This doesn’t mean that you have to wait for a hot day to enjoy this beer, but it does make it even better.

You can find Stone IPA on draft as well as in 12 and 22-ounce bottles. Not only should Stone IPA be a beer that you look for when you’re out, it’s perfect as a go-to beer when you’re just looking for a great beer without researching the beer list.

Style – American IPA

ABV – 6.9%

IBU – 77

Arrogant Bastard Ale

This beer is best described in one word: Aggressive. Arrogant Bastard Ale describes itself as an aggressive beer that you probably won’t like. While this is true for the light beer drinkers of the world, if you’re reading this that means you’ll probably love it.

Arrogant Bastard Ale is a few steps to the left of a traditional IPA with tons more bitterness and enough alcohol to balance everything out. Originally released in 1997, this complex and slightly overbearing beer speaks to the love of hops that American brewers have.

Arrogant Bastard Ale is proof that you don’t need multi-million dollar ad campaigns or scantily-clad girls to love a beer, but instead if the beer is complex and solid enough, the love for it comes along just fine.

Stone says that it’s OK if you don’t love this beer because they’re brewing it for themselves, not for you. The name comes from the idea that only a truly Arrogant Bastard would like this beer as a way of overtly showing his or her love and appreciation for extreme beer, but it doesn’t take someone that’s arrogant to think this is an amazing beer. Don’t be afraid of Arrogant Bastard Ale and give it a try. You’ll probably be surprised at how much you love it.

Arrogant Bastard Ale is available on draft and in 22-ounce bottles.

Style – American Strong Ale

ABV – 7.2%

IBU – Classified

Stone Ruination IPA

Ruination, noun

  • the action or fact of ruining someone or something or of being ruined.
  • the state of being ruined: the palate fell into ruination.

Stone Ruination IPA is a beer with two purposes: Number one is to give you an intensely hopped double IPA that’s second to none and the Second purpose is to completely ruin your palate for any other beer.

Both purposes are easily achieved with this 8.2% Imperial IPA, and when you’re done you’ll be glad for both. This massively hopped monster of a beer will easily change what you think a great beer really is. If Stone IPA is the big brother of Stone Pale Ale, then this is the daddy of them both!

Stone Ruination IPA starts with Stone IPA as a base and from there an extra helping of malt is added to up the alcohol content and far more than a healthy dose of additional hops are added, giving this beer a character so unique it’s amazing.

What you get from this brutal combination is a vibrant blast of bitterness and citrus aroma and taste that’s evident from the first sip. Stone calls this beer “A liquid poem to the glory of the hop,” and after tasting it, we’d have to agree.

Stone Ruination IPA is available on draft as well as 12 and 22-ounce bottles.

Style – American Double / Imperial IPA

ABV – 8.2%

IBU – 102

Stone Go To IPA

The newest addition to Stone Brewing’s hop-forward family is best described as the little brother that’s a prodigy of just about everything imaginable. While Stone Go To IPA is considered to be a sessionable IPA, nothing is lost to the lightening of bitterness or alcohol content.

Coming in at 4.5% ABV, this beer is meant to be the beer you can have a few of and still be upright. Stone Brewing is known for their relentless quest to pack the most hops and flavor into a beer while still making the beer one of the best you’ve ever had, and while this is still true, Go To IPA is made to have all the fruity, piney character that a great West Coast IPA is known for while keeping the bitterness at a manageable level and the alcohol at a weekday lunch percentage.

To achieve these opposing goals, Stone Brewing employed a new “hop bursting” technique where an enormous amount of hops are added in the final phase of brewing to give this beer huge flavor and aroma without making it too bitter or high in alcohol.

Stone Go To IPA is available on draft as well as 12-ounce bottles.

Style – Session American IPA

ABV – 4.5%

IBU – 65

Pabst Blue Ribbon

Icon Written by admin on July 9, 2014 – 8:30 pm

Pabst Blue Ribbon

A brand that was once considered the uncool beer for fathers and grandfathers around the country has made a complete turnaround in popularity since early 2000 up to today where it’s become the go-to brand for the coolest of the cool. Pabst Blue Ribbon has one of the most recognizable logos in the beer world and their 16oz “Pounder” can is about as iconic as a beer container can get. There’s more to PBR than the cool factor and a recognizable can however, there’s a lot of history behind the beer and some pretty amazing projects in their future, too.

Pabst Blue Ribbon beer was originally brewed in 1844 under the name Pabst Select. It wasn’t until 1895 that the beer gained its quintessential name that we all know today, Pabst Blue Ribbon. Even though the PBR can is known far and wide, it wasn’t until 1935 that the first PBR was placed in a can.

Stepping back from PBR for a minute, the Pabst Brewery was founded by Jacob Best in Milwaukee, Wisconsin originally as the Empire Brewery. They produced 300 barrels of Best Select Lager in their first year. In 1860 Jacob’s son Phillip took over for his father and renamed the brewery Phillip Best Company and continues to produce the original beer.

Jump ahead to 1876 and the newly named Pabst’s Best Select Lager wins a gold medal at the Centennial Celebration, the first of many awards to be won in the future. The new president of the company, Frederick Pabst, decides that every bottle of Best Select Beer deserves its own blue ribbon to identify it as a first-place winner to everyone who tries the beer and since it’s 1882 this is done by hand around the neck of every bottle.

Following suit with his father-in law Phillip, Pabst changes the name of the brewery to honor whom else, but himself! With this renaming the Pabst Brewing Company we know today was truly born. By 1892 Pabst Brewing is using nearly 1 million feet of silk ribbon per year for their hand-tied bows that went on every bottle of Best Select. Jump ahead once again to 1898 and Best Select finally changes its name to the one we know and love today: Pabst Blue Ribbon because that’s what everyone called it for years before, anyway.

During Prohibition Pabst moved to the cheese market, selling cheese under the name Pabst-ett. Once Prohibition finally ended, Pabst sold their cheese business to Kraft and went back into the brewing business once again.

In 1950 the hand-tied silk ribbons finally went the way of the buffalo but can still be seen in the Blue Ribbon logo. It’s understandable that Pabst couldn’t keep up with the ribbon tying, since this year alone they produced 3.4 million barrels of beer.
PBR Today

Unlike many of the other large breweries today, Pabst doesn’t have a big advertising budget and relies solely on the quality of their beer and word of mouth to spread the word of PBR.

You won’t find scantily clad PBR girls handing out t-shirts and beer koozies, and you definitely won’t see any nationwide PBR television ads or hear any radio ads or commercials. Pabst does all their advertising thanks to the cool crowd of millenials in the 21-35 age group and their love of the brand. Whether it was the complete lack of advertising or the wrongly-perceived uncoolness of the brand that did it, PBR has become the hippest beer out there and is the go-to beer in dive bars, sports bars, concert venues, and sporting events. What’s most surprising however is that it’s still popular in many craft beer bars and is usually the only non-craft beer that’s drank without a second look in these quickly growing establishments.

PBR can be found today in containers ranging from the traditional draft to 12,16, 24, and even 32-ounce cans as well as 12,22,32, and 40-ounce bottles.

Recent awards for PBR include a gold medal at the 2005, 2006, and 2012 Great American Beer Festival for American-Style Lager and a gold medal for the 2013 Los Angeles International Beer Competition for American Style Lager.

PBR is brewed with a combination of 2 and 6-row malted barley along with select cereal grains. Pabst uses both American and European hops to provide a beer with a clean, crisp finish and an excellent noble hop aroma. PBR is golden-straw in golor and has a balance of hop and malt character that keeps it from being too bitter while featuring the delicate noble hop aroma.

The PBR Art Program
Pabst Blue Ribbon is starting something new for their 16oz Pounder can in 2014, and it’s all about you, as long as you’re a decent artist. Art and PBR aren’t new bedfellows but this year they are focusing on a new project, titled the PBRART can. Instead of the traditional PBR artwork on these perfectly sized cans, artists can submit their work to be included on the can in and around the original PBR logo.

Artists from around the country are encouraged to submit their own works to be considered for placement on the historical can. There will be art events all around the country where artists can get blank 160z art “can-vases” to use in their design work.

The first PBRART can features artist Josh Holland and can be found wherever PBR Pounder cans are sold.

Pabst Blue Ribbon can be found throughout Pittsburgh and is proudly distributed by Galli Wholesale.

Anchor Brewing

Icon Written by admin on July 9, 2014 – 8:15 pm

Anchor Brewing

While breweries like Goose Island, Deschutes, and Rogue can trace their history all the way back to 1988, if you want to go way back, the only place to look is at Anchor Brewing Company.

The history of Anchor Brewing Company can be traced all the way back to 1871 when German immigrant Gottlieb Brekle purchased a beer and billiards saloon and opened a brewery on Pacific Street in San Francisco. It wasn’t until 1896 however that the brewery was renamed Anchor Brewing by Ernst Baruth and his son-in-law Otto Schinkel. Nobody’s quite sure where the name Anchor came from, but it’s widely accepted that it was meant to be a tie-in with the booming Port of San Francisco.

A string of unfortunate events including the death of Ernst Baruth, the devastating fire and earthquake of 1907, and Prohibition in 1920 knocked Anchor down but not out. Between the repeal of Prohibition in 1933 and 1965 Anchor Brewing saw its share of change, but in 1965 a new era started at Anchor, known as the Maytag Era.

It was in 1965 that Fritz Maytag, upon hearing of the planned final closing of the storied brewery that he loved, decided to purchase 51% of the brewery in a bid to keep the doors open and improve on the beer Anchor brewed and how it was produced.

In 1971, 100 years after Gottlieb founded the original brewery on Pacific, Fritz Maytag started brewing what would become the most popular and recognizable beer produced by Anchor still today: Anchor Steam Beer. Even though nobody knew what a microbrewery or craft beer was quite yet, it was pretty evident that Anchor was on to something great and was leading a revolution in brewing that was far from the light lagers that were popular at the time.

Jump ahead to 1984 and Anchor Brewing releases the first wheat beer produced in the United States since Prohibition to celebrate their 5th anniversary. Jump ahead again to 1993 and you’ll find another first for Anchor with the opening of their in-house distillery at the brewery; a first of its kind in the world.

Today Anchor Brewing is one of the most traditional breweries in the United States, producing one of the few remaining versions of the California Common, also known as Steam Beer. Anchor’s beers are still brewed in handmade copper vessels in their San Francisco brewhouse with the same level of care that Fritz Maytag instilled into Anchor nearly 50 years ago.
The Beers
Anchor Brewing Company offers an assortment of beers ranging form their original Steam Beer to seasonal classics like the ever-changing Anchor Christmas Ale, which was first brewed in 1975 and comes in a different style and with a new label every year since then.

Being summer however, Christmas beers should be the last thing on all of our minds, which is why Anchor has a much more refreshing lineup for the warmer months.
Anchor Steam
The beer that started it all for Anchor, Steam takes its name from a nickname beers brewed on the west coast in the 19th century were given thanks to the lack of ice during brewing and the often warm conditions they were brewed in. Much like the name of the brewery itself, the actual source of the Steam nickname isn’t clear, but it’s believed that it comes from the cooling of fermenting beer on San Francisco rooftops by the cool night air, creating a steam that rose from the warm beer.

Steam was at one time a nickname for all beer coming from the West Coast, but today it’s a trademark of Anchor Brewing Company and only applies to this great beer.

Anchor Steam Beer smells of rich, semi-sweet malt with some bready, biscuity aroma paired with a slight hint of citrus. The taste can be described as slight caramel with a touch of citrus and the same buscuity maltiness found in the aroma.

Overall Anchor Steam Beer is a great, easy-drinking beer that is well balanced, not too bitter, and has more than enough flavor to never be considered boring or overdone.

Malt: Blend of 2-Row Pale and Caramel
Hops: Northern Brewer
ABV: 4.9%
IBU: 37
Liberty Ale
Liberty Ale was first brewed on April 18th, 1975 to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Paul Revere’s historic ride, and it’s still made today. This beer is made with whole cone hops as well as dry hopped to create a delicate yet unique taste that makes this American IPA surprisingly easy to drink.

The aroma of Liberty Ale features citrus in the forefront with some bready, yeasty characteristics in the background. The taste can be described as having pear and grapefruit present with a balance of malt and bitterness. Liberty Ale is naturally carbonated, which gives the beer a unique higher than normal fizziness and unique mouthfeel.

Malt: 2-Row Pale
Hops: Cascade
IBU: 47
Anchor Porter
Anchor Porter features a thick, creamy head that sits atop a deep black beer that has tastes of chocolate, toffee, and coffee in a surprisingly smooth balance. This highly hopped porter is naturally carbonated to give it even more smooth mouthfeel and taste, and is the first American porter, first brewed in 1972.

The aroma of Anchor Porter is heavy on roasted barley with a subtle smell of chocolate, vanilla, and toffee. The taste consists of coffee with sweet malt, molasses, and a solid hoppy bitterness.

Malt: Blend of 2-Row Pale, Caramel, Black, and Chocolate
Hops: Northern Brewer
ABV: 5.6%
IBU: 20
California Lager
By far the newest beer in this list, Anchor’s California Lager was first brewed in 2012, but its roots go all the way back to the beginning of the brewery and the Gold Rush. Made after California’s first genuine lager, brewed by Boca Brewing in 1876, Anchor’s version is a re-creation of this historic beer.

While Anchor’s version isn’t cooled in a mountain ice pond like Boca’s version was, it’s still a true to the original version that will surprise you.

The first thing you’ll notice with this beer is the aroma, which is extremely floral, with some hop character showing through. The taste features crisp citrus notes with a strong, yet very drinkable bitterness that moves to the grassy, earthy category. California Lager has a dry finish that leaves a slight yeasty taste that is not unpleasant. California Lager is an excellent version of an American Pale Lager that has enough character to stand on its own and isn’t strong enough that it can still be paired with a variety of foods.

Malt: 2-Row Pale
Hops: Cluster
ABV: 4.9%

Anchor Beers can be found in six-packs, cases, on draft, and in the unique 12-pack variety pack that features Original Wheat, Liberty Ale, Steam, and Porter. Anchor is proudly distributed by Frank B. Fuhrer Wholesale.

The Craft Beer Can Revolution

Icon Written by admin on June 1, 2014 – 8:48 pm

The Craft Beer Can Revolution – Just in Time For Summer

Beer has been put into bottles for over 440 years, making this receptacle for beer quite the long-standing champ of getting beer from brewer to drinker. There’s been a revolution in craft beer lately though that’s trying to change that. Canned beer is making a comeback in a major way, with more and more craft breweries jumping on the canning wagon and not looking back. Before we get into why cans are better than bottles (and yes, they really are), a very short history lesson is in order.

The first beer can was available to the public in 1935 from Kruger Brewing. Pabst became the first major brewer to adopt the can the same year. These cans were flat tops that required a church key, or can piercing opener, to open. Jump ahead to 1962 and our very own Iron City Brewing was the first brewery to introduce pull tab cans that required no opener, other than your fingers that is.

Travel ahead in time once more to 2002 and Oscar Blues Brewing out of Lyons, Colorado starts canning their own beer. Oscar Blues was the first craft brewery to sell their beer only in cans, no bottles. Today craft beer in cans abounds, with more available every day. So what’s so great about a can?

There’s a lot that great about cans, actually. First and probably most importantly, cans are nowhere near as fragile as bottles are. This means no breakage and sharp shards of glass to worry about. Cans are lighter than bottles, so it’s easier to ship them and easier for you to carry a six-pack or case home. Cans are far more recyclable than bottles are, and since they’re lighter they use less fuel when shipping, so cans are definitely more environmentally friendly than a bottle could ever be.

Cans protect your beer from light and oxygen, the two biggest enemies of beer, cans get cold quicker, stack easier, and fit into a cooler better with no worry of finding a broken one when you get to the beach or concert.

Canned beer is perfect for every outdoor activity you can think of. From the beach to the outdoor concerts, hiking, camping, boating, and baseball/softball games that are spread throughout the summer months, canned beer is just about perfect. There’s no breakage, no fear of injury, and best of all, you can fit more cans into the cooler than bottles!

There are quite a few craft breweries today with canned beer available, and with Vecenie Wholesale’s focus on craft beer in cans, you’re sure to find your favorite styles and breweries available in Pittsburgh sooner than later. Check out some of the best craft beer in cans available now through Vecenie Wholesale.

Oscar Blues
From the aforementioned Oscar Blues Brewery you can find the following available right now, just in time for the summer season.

Dale’s Pale Ale –Pale ale available in 12oz and 19.2 oz. cans.
Mama’s Little Yella Pils – Pilsner available in 12 oz. cans.
Old Chub – Scotch Ale available in 12 oz. cans.
Deviant Dale’s – IPA available in 16 oz. cans.
G’Knight – Imperial Red available in 16 oz. cans.

Lancaster Brewing
Lancaster offers quite a few beers in cans, but the perfect beer offered by them for summer is their Kolsch, available in 12 oz. cans.

Bell’s Brewery
Bell’s is just this year stepping into the world of beer cans, but they’re really doing it in style. You can pick up two of their most popular warm-weather beers in 16 oz. cans right now.

Oberon – Summer Ale available in 16 oz. cans.
Two Hearted Ale – IPA available in 16 oz. cans.

North Country Brewing
Local to the Pittsburgh area, Slippery Rock natives North Country Brewing started distributing their amazing beers recently, and following suit with big names like Oscar Blues, they’re only producing their beer for distribution in cans. So far a resounding success, You can pick up these four North Country beer in cans right now.

Slimy Pebble Pils – Pilsner available in 12 oz. cans.
Firehouse Red – Red Ale available in 12 oz. cans.
Paleo IPA – IPA available in 12 oz. cans.
Buck Snort Stout – American Stout available in 12 oz. cans.

Tröegs Brewing
Pennsylvania’s very own Tröegs Brewing out of Hershey, PA is known for some pretty amazing beer. Just like other craft breweries, Tröegs saw the value in craft cans and started canning their most popular beers. Luck for us, they included their summer seasonal in the mix, too. You can find the following Tröegs beer in cans right now.

Perpetual IPA – American IPA available in 12 oz. cans.
Troegenator – Double Bock available in 16 oz. cans.
Sunshine Pils – Pilsner available in 12 oz. cans.

Anderson Valley Brewing
Anderson Valley Brewing is another brewery that’s gone all cans and shunned the traditional bottle. With all their beers in cans, getting a mix of their beers for the beach is as easy as picking up a variety case, which is available year round.

Barney Flats – Oatmeal Stout available in 12 oz. cans.
Boont Amber – Amber Ale available in 12 oz. cans.
Hop Ottin’ IPA – American IPA available in 12 oz. cans.
Summer Solstice (Summer only) – Summer Ale available in 12 oz. cans.
El Steinber – Dark Lager available in 16 oz. cans.
Keebarlin’ Pale Ale (January-March) – Pale Ale available in 12 oz. cans.
Holy Gose (April-June) – Gose available in 12 oz. cans.
Leeber Paw Pils (July-September) – Pilsner available in 12 oz. cans.

Jack’s Hard Cider
The term “farm to table” is used quite a bit anymore, but with jack’s Hard Cider, it’s 100% true. Jack’s is a real local farm that produces and cans their own apples into a cider that’s never sweet and always tart and refreshing. If you’ve only had cider from the big guys, you need to try this cider today. Jack’s Hard Cider is only available in cans.

Jack’s Original – Cider available in 12 oz. cans.
Helen’s Blend – Cider available in 12 oz. cans.
Conewago Orchard – Semi-dry cider named after Jack’s apple orchard. Fermented with their best apples, and is available in 12 oz. cans.

Many imports choose to can their beer so that it makes the trip across the pond in better condition than a bottle could ever make. Two great summer beers that are canned and ready for anything you can throw at them are:

Marten’s Pils – Belgian Pilsner available in 16.9 oz. cans.
Asahi Super Dry – Lager from Japan available in 33.8 oz. cans.

All these canned beers and more are available right now in your local distributor or craft beer bar and are proudly distributed by Vecenie Distributing Co, Pittsburgh, PA.

Deschutes Brewery

Icon Written by admin on June 1, 2014 – 8:46 pm

Deschutes Brewery

1988 was a very formative year in the world of craft beer. While most of us had no clue what a craft beer was, breweries like North Coast Brewing Co., Rogue Brewery, Goose Island Beer Co. and Great Lakes Brewing Co. were just starting to put down roots in their respective cities. Along with these breweries came the final member of the class of ’88 was setting up shop in the little town of Bend, Oregon. Here, Gary Fish opened the first iteration of Deschutes Brewery opened the doors of the first brewpub 26 years ago to start selling something completely different to the world: craft beer. What Gary Fish and the residents of Bend didn’t know at the time was that this crazy idea of caring about how your beer is made would grow, and that their little brewpub would become the sixth largest craft brewery in the country and that they would care about good beer so much that Deschutes would also grow to become the second largest consumer of whole cone hops in the United States and that their Black Butte Porter, one of the original Deschutes beers, would become the number one craft porter in the US, too.

Thankfully, this original craft brewer is finally making their appearance this month in Pittsburgh, with their yearly lineup being available immediately and seasonal offerings coming later. By now though, you’re probably wondering where the name Deschutes comes from. Maybe it was an Egyptian beer goddess, or maybe there’s a little-known hop that carries the title. The answer is actually much more grounded than both of these. Gary Fish founded the Deschutes brewery on the shores of the Deschutes River in Bend, Oregon as a small brewpub in 1988. Jump ahead to 1993 and Deschutes opens their first production brewery with a 50-barrel capacity. Since then, Deschutes has continued to grow their production and fermentation capacity to where it is today at around 250,000 barrels per year and still growing. The first beers brewed by Deschutes were Cascade Golden, Bachelor Bitter, and Black Butte Porter. It is this same porter that carries the number 1 title in the US. Black Butte Porter, along with Mirror Pond Pale Ale are considered the flagship beers for Deschutes and with good reason. Both beers stand out in their respective categories for being clean, crisp, and innovative beers. By the way, that Egyptian beer goddess is a real think, and her name was Tenenet.

Deschutes is a brewery that believes in the pioneering spirit of craft brewing, which means they push existing boundaries to make not only new beers, but to have people experience beers that they may not believe they would like. Take for example the Black Butte Porter, this beer was released with the first brewpub back in 1988, when porters were one of the least popular beer styles around. Deschutes not only sold their porter, but enough that they were able to grow and continue to keep this solid beer in their yearly lineup for 26 years and counting.

Deschutes is a true craft brewery in the sense that they care as much about the environmental impact of the beer they make as they do about the quality of the beer. In 2013 Deschutes was the first craft brewery to implement the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Report, which track more than 45 measures of economic, environmental, and social performance. In other words, this annual reporting undertaking will help Deschutes to track performance as they focus on using fewer resources and maintain a clean, healthy work environment. In other words, Deschutes is focusing on clean, green operation while providing us with some of the best beers on the market. Deschutes cares so much about the green movement that several of their beers, including Mirror Pond Pale Ale and Black Butte Porter use Salmon Safe certified hops.

One way Deschutes stays on top of what their customers want is their unwavering dedication to listening to what they have to say, be it in their two brewpubs where small batch, experimental beers are poured and tested, or via their numerous social media accounts including Twitter, Facebook, and flickr. Each of the brewpubs has 19 beers on tap that each include a few of those aforementioned experimental brewpub-only beers. Some of the things they hear from these customers is the want for the wild and unique, so with this in mind Deschutes has used everything from chilies to chocolates to licorice and cherries to brew some of their more unique beers. As mentioned at the beginning, Deschutes is the second largest consumer of whole-cone hops in the country, and it is this ingredient that sets them apart from the other craft breweries the most. Deschutes believes that whole cone hops create a better beer and a more well-rounded flavor. Brewmaster Cam O’Connor says of their brewing style, “We’re big fans of Mother Nature and keeping our brewing ingredients as close as possible as to what she provides.”

Speaking of their beers, Deschutes currently distributes to 25 states as well as internationally, and produce seven standard year-round beers in 12-oz bottles and three 22-oz bottles. With seasonal ales, their special Bond Street Series and Reserve Series, Deschutes produces an impressive more than 20 beers throughout the year.

Starting off the era of Deschutes beer in Pittsburgh, you can expect to find the following beer to begin with.

Black Butte Porter
The beer that started Deschutes off is still available today and as good as ever. Black Butte Porter features a creamy mouthfeel and subtle flavors of chocolate and coffee. This bestselling craft porter has a slight hop bitterness on the front and finishes with semi-sweet chocolate. The flavor profile of Black Butte Porter is more complex than you’d expect from a traditional porter, but in a very good way. Black Butte Porter pairs perfectly with burgers, BBQ, and smoked meats. Pulled Pork would also make a great sidecar to Black Butte, BBQ or not. Black Butte is Deschutes’ flagship beer and can be found year-round.
Malt: Pale, Carapils, Chocolate, Crystal, Wheat
Hops: Cascade, Bravo, Tettnang
ABV: 5.2%
IBU: 30

Chainbreaker White IPA
Chainbreaker White IPA marks Deschutes entrance into a new style of beer. Combining the flavor and bitterness of hops with the esters of Belgian yeast, white IPAs are surprisingly thirst-quenching while still giving the hop kick you’ve grown to love in your favorite IPA. Brewed with wheat and pilsner malt, Chainbreaker keeps the citrus tones that Cascade and Citra hops impart while keeping the light, refreshing body and taste of a Belgian wheat beer. Chainbreaker White IPA pairs well with fish tacos and tropical fruit salsa, grilled sausage, and fruity chicken salads. Chainbreaker White IPA is the newest beer from Deschutes available in Pittsburgh and can be found year-round.
Malt: Pilsner, Wheat, Unmalted Wheat
Hops: Bravo, Citra, Centennial, Cascade
ABV: 5.6%
IBU: 55

Mirror Pond Pale Ale
Mirror Pond Pale Ale takes one of the most quintessential beer styles and keeps it fresh by separating it from its IPA brethren in both bitterness and alcohol content. Mirror Pond is the #2 best selling pale ale in the country for 2013 and received an overall rating of 90 on RateBeer. Tawny-colored and a hop-forward flavor and aroma make Deschutes’ best-selling beer as good as it sounds. Featuring only one variety of hops showcases the flavor profile of Cascade hops and helps this beer to showcase what a northwest pale ale should be. Mirror Pond pairs perfectly with lighter pizzas, goat cheese, bruschetta, and steamed clams. Mirror Pond Pale Ale is available from Deschutes year-round.
Malt: Pale, NW Pale, Crystal, Carapils
Hops: Cascade
ABV: 5%
IBU: 40

Twilight Summer Ale
The only seasonal beer from Deschutes that’s made its way to Pittsburgh so far, Twilight Summer Ale is golden-colored and features a malt-forward body and a refreshing hop profile that’s never overpowering, but instead very light in the mouthfeel and body. Twilight pours crisp and clean with a soft white head that protects a strong dose of Amarillo hop aroma. Overall, Twilight is a perfectly balanced beer that’s refreshing and perfect for the warm months ahead. Twilight Summer Ale pairs well with baked salmon, calamari, and vinegar-based salads, preferably topped with fish or chicken. You can find Twilight between May and September.
Malt: NW Pale, Carastan, Carapils
Hops: Northern Brewer, Amarillo, Cascade, Tettnang
ABV: 5%
IBU: 35

Deschutes craft beers are now available in the Pittsburgh area and are proudly distributed by Frank B. Fuhrer Wholesale.

Commonwealth Press Ale

Icon Written by admin on April 28, 2014 – 6:23 pm

Commonwealth Press Ale                             By: Chris Wise


Over the past few years, craft brewing has experienced a revolution, and as craft beers become more popular, the amount of choices becomes staggering. So how does someone even get started in the brewing industry? The story of Commonwealth Press Ale shows that not everybody goes through the process of home-brewing, laboring in their basement for years before producing their first commercially available brew.

Dan Rugh started Commonwealth Press in his basement (I guess the story does start in a basement) in the South Side of Pittsburgh in 2002. After suckering his wife into helping with the venture, they set up a space to do design work in the attic and screen printing in the basement. Although it was a tight fit, living and working in the same building, Dan and his wife did it for three years, until they were able to move the operation to a newer, larger location.

After moving to the new location, a loft above a beer distributor, still in the South Side, Commonwealth again experienced an increase in business. They again had to relocate, this time to their current location on Carson Street, which currently serves as their retail space while their production is done at a warehouse a few blocks away on 23rd Street. Over the years, Commonwealth Press has had the privilege to work with many local Pittsburgh businesses and artists, as well as collaborate with them to come up with some very interesting products. In 2011, Commonwealth Press collaborated with Pittsburgh rapper Mac Miller on his Blue Slide Park release, they created shirts based on artwork by Gabriel Roth.

Through his work with Pittsburgh locals and his roll-with-the-punches attitude, Dan Rugh and Commonwealth Press have been able to handle setbacks along the way and thrive when given the opportunity. Last year, someone threw a brick through the storefront window, smashing glass and shutting down operation for a while until it was fixed. While some would see this as a setback, Rugh and Commonwealth Press turned the story on its head, and used the story to generate coverage on local news stations (and even ending up on NPR’s morning edition) for the company. Deciding to auction the brick off in a charity style event, Commonwealth Press was able to raise enough money to fix the window and donate the leftover money to various charities. Rugh explains why the incident meant so much to the company: “I think it was seeing people that we barely knew – or we didn’t even know knew us – coming to help for something that could have been easily ignored. That simple feeling of community over something trivial lets you know that we are all part of this great city.”

Rugh and Commonwealth Press has shown their support of Pittsburgh over the years, holding an open house with food and beer to the public to show their love of the support they got from the city. Commonwealth Press has also opened their doors for print-your-own parties in which the public can come use their equipment to produce whatever they can dream up to print.

This attitude of giving back to the community and forming lasting relationships with their clients, has allowed Commonwealth Press to become involved in some cool collaborations. One such collaboration is the beer barge they held in 2013 during Pittsburgh’s craft beer week. Taking beer lovers out on the river for three hours to sample craft beers being featured in 2013’s Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week. The event was such a success, Commonwealth Press has decided to hold one again in 2014, this time with two Gateway Clipper’s joined together because Gateway doesn’t have one big enough to hold all the participants.

While Commonwealth Press has found success in their ventures outside of printing, Dan and the company fell into brewing after joking around with longtime clients Penn Brewery. A longtime brewer in Pittsburgh, Penn Brewery is one of the most popular and respected breweries in Pittsburgh, who has been working with Commonwealth Press for a number of years. One day when Penn Brewery’s Co-Owner Sandy was in placing an order, Dan jokingly asked what it would take to produce a Commonwealth Press Ale. The response from Penn Brewery was of course, they would love to come up with a brew for their friends at Commonwealth Press.

So Dan sat down with the brew-master at Penn Brewery to talk about how he wanted it to taste, and Dan was able to be involved with the building of the ale from concept to completion. They got to decide on what hops to use, and landed on a blend of German Perle and Spalter hops along with Willamette hops from the Pacific Northwest. They then mash hopped their ingredients with whole leaf fuggles, and got to be involved the whole way, even stirring the tanks and boxing the beer after it was brewed. The result was an ale coming in at 4.5% ABV and 45 IBUs, and it was met with enthusiasm from beer drinkers across Pittsburgh, though it did run into some problems along the way.

If you think producing your own brew for the public is an easy process, think again. From getting the label approved by the government for use; to finding a distributor, getting the label to be put on the bottle correctly, Rugh notes “There were so many intricate details that needed to be addressed that it’s almost impossible to list everything, but I can honestly say that if there was something that could go wrong, it probably did in one way or the other.” But Dan and his team are used to rolling with the punches to get a job done: “The thing that made it so fun though was the entire crew at Penn are so laid back and cool that no matter what went wrong, we just rolled with it, fixed it, made it part of the process and moved on.” Even though their previous distributor pulled out at the last second last year, Dan was able to contact one of his clients at Buddy’s Brews in the South Side who were more than happy to take the entire stock off Dan’s hands.

Dan’s view of his experience in brewing has been very positive, so much so they are doing it again this year, and plan to make it a habit every year. Dan says the response he’s got from last year’s Commonwealth Press Ale and beer barge have been great: “We sold it all (their ale and tickets to the barge) so that’s pretty rad. I haven’t heard any complaints yet, except the kegs sold out too fast.” Dan’s sense of humor about both his successes and setbacks likely are a big reason he has been able to find support from the Pittsburgh community through the years. So make sure to get your hands on a case of Commonwealth Press Ale this year before it sells out, and get a great taste of what collaborations between a few Pittsburgh craftsmen can bring about.

Now proudly distributed locally by family owned Vecenie Distributing Company.

Lefthand Brewing

Icon Written by admin on April 28, 2014 – 6:07 pm

Lefthand Brewing

Chris Wise

As with many craft breweries, Left Hand Brewing started with a passion for home-brewing between friends, and has turned into a success story. It began in 1990, when Dick Doore received a home-brewing kit as a gift for Christmas from his brother. Dick became obsessed with home-brewing, and found himself in Colorado in August of 1993 with his college friend Eric Wallace. While Dick was the one with expertise in home-brewing, Eric brought with him all his experiences from traveling around the world and sampling beers wherever he went. After impressing family members and neighbors with their brews, one night, after finishing off their supply of homemade dry stout Eric brewed, they had their epiphany: “Let’s start a brewery!”

While their heads may have been a little fuzzy the next day, the idea was clear and stuck in their heads, and they set about right away with founding their brewery. In September of 1993, Dick and Eric founded Indian Peaks Brewing Company, named after the Indian Peaks Wilderness nearby. While they were having early success in finding both a facility and equipment, troubles arose when another brewery claimed the name Indian Peaks for one of their brew lines. Hoping to avoid costly legal trouble this early in their brewing career, they quickly changed their name to Left Hand Brewing after local tribe chief, Chief Niwot (Niwot being the Arapahoe word for left hand.)

On January 22, 1994, Wallace and Doore opened the doors to Left Hand Brewing, rolling out their first line of Sawtooth Ale (still available today.) In October of that year, at the Great American Beer Festival, Left Hand took home 2 medals, a Gold Medal in the Bitter Category for Sawtooth Ale, and a Bronze Medal in the Robust Porter Category for Black Jack Porter. These mainstays, along with newcomers such as Good Juju Ale, Wake Up Dead Imperial Stout, Jackman’s, Motherlode, Maid Marion and Deep Cover Brown Ale, helped Left Hand develop public support and expand into new markets.

In 1998, Left Hand merged with Tabernash Brewing from Denver, which allowed both to sell 6-packs of 12 oz. bottles (up to that point they only sold 22 oz. bombers and kegs.) They also started Indian Peaks Distributing Company the same year, but over the years the partnership with Tabernash has phased out and the distributing company sold, allowing Left Hand to focus on making some innovative brews.

Left Hand Brewing Company has certainly found success along the way: they cracked the Brewer’s Association Top 50 Craft Brewers in 2012, has consistently increased production year after year (over 30% in 2010 during a recession,) and began a 5 year, 9 million dollar expansion project in 2008 to keep up with demand. This success over the years has allowed Left Hand to be on the cutting edge of innovations such as Nitro bottling, green initiatives, and give back to the community in big ways.

Nitro Bottling

In 2011, at the first night of the Great American Beer Festival, Left Hand introduced the world to Nitro Bottling. Traditional CO2 beers have a much greater carbonic bite compared to the much smoother Nitro series. The addition of Nitrogen to a beer gives way to much smaller bubbles, creating a smoother, creamier experience. Beyond mouthfeel, there are variances in appearance and smell as well. Take Classic Milk Stout and Milk Stout Nitro. Visually, you will notice that as you pour Classic Milk Stout, it behaves like a normal beer with an instantaneous mahogany body and receding taupe head. As you hard pour Milk Stout Nitro, the beer will immediately begin to cascade, settling to reveal the body and developing a thick, billowy, off white head on top. In regards to smell and taste, Classic Milk Stout overall has a greater nose, as well as a more roasty character and a very slight hop bitterness. Milk Stout Nitro has a more creamy mocha essence throughout the beer, with no noticeable hop element. This innovative process has allowed Left Hand to stand out from their competitors and remain successful in the competitive craft brewing community, where new comers pop up everyday.

Giving Back

With so much continued success, Left Hand has the ability to get involved in some pretty cool charities and events that let the public know Left Hand is very appreciative of their support. Left Hand supports a team at Bike MS every year, and event which hopes to raise awareness about Multiple Sclerosis, and raise money to help treatment of those with this debilitating disease. In addition to fighting MS every year, Left Hand loves supporting charities that want Left Hand to donate beer or money to help their charities. The Left Hand Brewing Foundation was set up so they could effectively help charities, and you can apply for help from the foundation online, where you can also see a list of organizations Left Hand has helped so far.

In addition to reaching out to community events, Left Hand also gives back to the community they live and work in by focusing on making their brewery as sustainable as possible. They work to achieve this by focusing on reducing energy consumption, installing solar panels around the brewery, and trying to recapture some of the energy used in the brewing process to be recycled later. Left Hand was able to cut down on water consumption, CO2 emmisions and electicity they consumed, and holds a meeting every month to come up with new ways to make the brewery even more sustainable.

Since beginning production 20 years ago, Left Hand Brewing has racked up 21 medals at the Great American Beer Festival, 9 World Beer Cup awards, 6 European Beer Star Awards, and a growing loyal customer base in 27 states and throughout Europe. Left Hand has found success in prdoucing honest beers, innovating new brewing and delivery systems, and making sure to give back to the community which has shown them so much support over the years.


Milk Stout Nitro

The original bottled Nitro beer, this stout boasts mocha flavors which go down super smooth. Pouring hard out of the bottle, Milk Stout Nitro cascades beautifully, building a tight, thick head like hard whipped cream. The aroma is of brown sugar and vanilla cream, with hints of roasted coffee. The pillowy head coats your upper lip and its creaminess entices your palate. Initial roasty, mocha flavors rise up, with slight hop & roast bitterness in the finish. This brew comes in at 6% ABV and 25 IBUs and is also available without Nitrogen.

Sawtooth Ale Nitro

The original recipe produced by Left Hand and given a new look by being injected with Nitrogen, this amber ale uses Pale 2-row, Crystal, Munich Wheat and Black Malts along with Magnum, US Goldings, Willamette and Cascade hops. Its malty chewiness slowly transitions over to herbal, earthy hops with a dry finish, and boasts a 5.3% ABV along with 27 IBUs.

Wake Up Dead Imperial Stout Nitro

This smooth, warming Stout has been injected with Nitrogen, enhancing the malt flavors of raisins, licorice, coffee, and dark chocolate. Stored in Left Hand’s cellar for four months till its perfect, this brew uses Pale 2-row, Munich, Crystal, Chocolate, Roasted Barley, Black Barley and Flaked Oats malts as well as Magnum and US Goldings hops. Coming in at a strong 10.2% ABV and 45 IBUs, this black stout is one of the darkest beers Left Hand offers.

400 Pound Monkey IPA

An English Style IPA with earthy, herbal hop notes, well-balanced by its bready malts. Using Pale 2-row, Crystal, Munich and Malted Wheat malts in addition to Magnum, Boadicea and Sovereign hops, this IPA comes in at 6.8% ABV and pairs well with burgers or spicy dishes.

Blackjack Porter

Opening on of these up, you are immediately taste notes of dark chocolate, espresso and herbal hop which pair nicely with its slight malt sweetness. This porter incorporates Pale 2-row, Crystal, Chocolate, Munich and Wheat malts with Magnum and US Goldings to produce a darkly delicious brew, with 35 IBUS and sporting a 6.8% ABV.

Fade To Black, Vol. 1

This foreign export stout won the gold medal at the Great American Beer festival, not once, but twice, in 2010 and 2013 in the foreign stout category. Using Pale 2-row, Roasted Barley, Black Malt, Chocolate Malt, Cara-Aroma and Malted Wheat malts and Magnum and US Goldings hops, this stout Pours black with licorice, espresso bean, molasses, and black cardamom notes. At 8.5% ABV and with 30 IBUs, this is a stout worthy of two gold medals, not doubt about it.

Proudly distributed locally byFrank B. Fuhrer Wholesale Company.

Lakefront Brewery

Icon Written by admin on April 28, 2014 – 6:06 pm

Lakefront Brewery                                                           By: Chris Wise

Milwaukee’s own Lakefront Brewery Inc. started in 1987. The industrious and inventive microbrewery located on the Milwaukee River has become a Milwaukee landmark. Its rich history includes partnerships with local taverns, preservation of local historical pieces, unique tours, family style dining options and most importantly, great beer.

Early History

The history of Lakefront has its beginnings in a classic sibling rivalry: one brother thinking he could brew a better beer than his brother. It started when Brewery President Russ Klisch bought his brother, Jim, a brewery book on home brewing. While Russ considers Jim’s cooking skills subpar in general, he was thoroughly impressed with his brother’s first effort. So impressed, he decided he didn’t want to be shown up by his brother, and set out to create his own, better brew.

The competition between the two brothers quickly spilled over into local home brewing contests and winning some in the process. Soon, friends and family were encouraging the brothers to make a business out of their shared interest in brews. It seems an interest in the beer industry has been strong in the Klisch family for years; many of Russ and Jim’s relatives have been involved in the industry in one way or another since his grandfather drove a delivery truck for Schlitz brewery. Russ has fond memories of his grandfather and his involvement in the beer industry: “It was a cool job if you got to bring beer home at night.” In addition to driving the delivery truck for Schlitz’s, their grandfather also served as a chauffeur for the Uihlein family who owned and operated the Schlitz brewery. With several other family members owning taverns throughout the Milwaukee area, the Klisch brothers had deep roots in the Milwaukee brewing heritage, and decided to open their own brewery.

The brothers picked a small property, a former bakery, located close to their houses as the spot for their brewery, at 818 East Chambers Street in Riverwest. Using only 55-gallon stainless steel drums and old dairy equipment, the brothers sold their first barrel of beer to Gordon Park Pub on December 2, 1987. Lakefront’s popularity took off after first opening, upping production to 72 barrels of brew in 1988, and 125 in 1989. After so much success in selling their beers to pubs and taverns around the area, the brothers decided to buy an old bottling machine and selling their brew directly to the public. The brother’s were incredibly resourceful at bringing old, used equipment back to life for use in the brewery, leading to one critic noting they had a “Frankenstein operation” because all their equipment had lived and died in a previous life.

As the brother’s turned their basement brewing competition into a viable business, they soon found they had reached production capacity at their original location. In 1998, the Klisch brothers were producing 3,000 barrels a year in the cramped 3,600 square foot Riverwest property. They needed to expand in order to keep the business growing, and began the search for a new property.

Recent History

With so much history in their family’s background in the Milwaukee area, it is no surprise their next location would be similarly rooted in the history of Milwaukee. The building, located at 1872 North Commerce Street, housed the Milwaukee Electric Railway and Light Company’s coal-fired power plant since 1908. In 1998, the city was considering tearing the building down unless a local business could step in and buy the building off their hands. It was a perfect fit for both the brewery and the city, and in 2000 Lakefront officially opened their doors at their new location. At the same time, Russ replaced the patchwork brewery system that had operated at the previous brewery, in favor of a new brew house.

Lakefront has continued to incorporate themselves further into Milwaukee’s storied history and love affair with brewing. The lights that adorn the outside of Lakefront’s brewery come from a beer hall in the Plankiton Hotel in Milwaukee. The beer hall was to be opened on the same day World War I started, and with prohibition following thereafter, the beer hall never opened, and the lights sat in storage with other Milwaukee historical artifacts. Lakefront also purchased the original chalet of Bernie Brewer, the Brewer’s mascot, when the team rebuilt their stadium, and installed it in their brewery.

While the Klisch brother’s have made sure to respect the history of brewing in Milwaukee, they have not shied away from being on the cutting edge of brewing. Lakefront was the first brewery to produce gluten-free beer to be certified by the government, and currently 25% of their production is gluten-free, which opens them up to a market largely ignored by beer producers. Coming out of a discussion the brothers had at a brewers convention with ATF representitives, they realized the federal rule that beer contain at least 25% malted barley excluded beer drinkers allergic to wheat and barley. After writing the ATF with their plan to brew a beer based on sorghum rather than wheat and barley, and thus Lakefront’s New Grist was born.

In 1996, Lakefront produced the first certified organic beer in America with their Organic ESB(Extra Special Bitter). In 2004, Russ and number of other brewers wrote the USDA, outraged they had begun letting brewer certified as “organic” use hops that were not organically grown. Russ and his fellow brewers won over the USDA with their love of great ingredients and honest brewing process. Lakefront also produced the second Pumpkin brew in America after Jim stumbled upon an old Pumpkin beer recipe of Thomas Jefferson’s. Lakefront was also most-likely the first brewery in America since prohibition to brew a fruit beer, with their seasonal offering Cherry Lager. Lakefront also has one of the only indigenous brews in America, using only indigenous ingredients from the Wisconsin area.

With so many great products, a rich history and an eye on innovation, Lakefront has become one of the most popular breweries in America today. Production numbers have been steadily rising over the years, jumping from 33,000 barrels in 2012 to 41,000 barrels in 2013. They have also been steadily expanding their market for their delicious brews, as Lakefront is now available in 35 states. In 2006, Lakefront became the first brewery in the state and the first business in the City of Milwaukee to receive the Travel Green Wisconsin certification. Travel Green Wisconsin recognizes tourism-related businesses that are reducing their environmental impact through operational and other improvements. Lakefront owes it success to the competitive nature of the Klisch brothers, Jim and Russ, who took a basement brewing competition to the big stage, and have produced some amazing beers along the way.


Fixed Gear

An American-style Amber Ale, Fixed Gear It pours a glaring crimson tone with a rocky white head and a brilliant floral-citrus aroma, thanks to an aggressive dry hopping. Its immodest, malty spine and intrepid caramel flavors blow in via gratuitous amounts of 2-row pale and dark caramel malts. A balanced citrus bite comes from Chinook and Cascade hops followed shortly by mild, fruity esters from the ale yeast. Weighing in at a mean 6.8% ABV and 54 IBU’s, this one’s got an attitude.

Organic ESB

Lakefront’s original organic offering, this extra special bitter British-style ale uses only 100% organic and fresh ingredients. Organic bravo hops lend a citrusy bite to the malty flavor to yield a very refreshing taste. Coming in at 5.8% ABV, this ale pairs well with most foods, and has been one of Lakefront’s best sellers since 1996.

Fuel Cafe

Another certified USDA organic brew, this organic coffee stout comes in at 6.4% ABV. Coffee aromas dominate the nose, with a background of roasted malt. The fine balance of mild organic hops, gentle brightness of choice coffee and the full mouthfeel from roasted malted barley make this an unforgettable brew.

Bridge Burner

The Bridge Burner pours a deep, fiery amber with a rocky off-white head. The assertive aroma is dominated by dry, earthy American hops: citrus, floral and pine tree notes all make a showing. The hops dominate, lending a hefty bitterness to the palate, but are backed up by the caramel malts, which lend a substantial body without any extra sweetness. A warm alcohol burn finishes it off with a nod to its considerable 8.5% ABV. 2009 Los Angeles County Fair gold medal barley wine winner.

New Grist

New Grist is a one-of-a-kind beer brewed without wheat or barley: the first of its kind that can be enjoyed by those with Celiac Disease. At 5.1% ABV, each batch of the brew is tested to ensure no gluten has been allowed to enter the product before it is shipped out. New Grist is brewed from sorghum, rice, hops, water and yeast. These ingredients are carefully combined to form a crisp, refreshing “session ale” brewed for those on a gluten-free diet, or anyone with an appreciation for a great tasting, handmade beer.

Local Acre

Local Acre is the first beer since prohibition that has been made with 100% ingredients that have been grown and processed in the state of Wisconsin. The organic 6-row lacey barley from a hard-working farm in Columbus gives Local Acre its malty-sweet backbone, hazy golden straw color and generous body. Diligent farmers in Hortonville and Mazomanie supply Nugget and Cascade hops for a delicate bitterness with a mild hop flavor and a slightly citrus aroma. Taste the soul of Wisconsin and you will find a well-balanced, unfiltered, homegrown lager with an ample body, yet a crisp, pilsner-like finish.

Proudly distributed locally by Galli Beer Distributing Company

Door County

Icon Written by admin on April 2, 2014 – 8:35 pm

Door County,  Wisconsin                                                  by: Suz Pisano

 Door County is a popular vacation destination in the middle of the upper Midwest “inland seas” of Wisconsin. With 300 miles of shoreline overlooking Lake Michigan, its scenic and serene landscape encompasses a wonderful variety of seasonal escapes. Whether you like lighthouses or landscapes painted in watercolor, boating, or just clean air relaxing, this series of quaint villages is small town Midwest, slower paced vacationing at its finest. The bay and the harbors lap at the breathtaking shoreline, filled with beautiful, lush state parks. Art galleries, restaurants, wineries, recreational activities, and a thriving culture take the place of fast food restaurants and convenience stores. Although most of the peninsula operates on a seasonal schedule, some Door County establishments operate year round.

The minute I knew I was going to visit Wisconsin, I immediately thought of one things: CHEESE. I was only about an hour or so into my trip from Green Bay to Door County when I landed at Renard’s Cheese. Since 1961, Renard’s has been making some of the best Wisconsin Cheddar in the Bay area. Chris Renard recently earned his certification as a Wisconsin Cheese maker, joining an elite group of cheddar and mozzarella cheese specialists. Cheese making is a family tradition at Renard’s, as is tasting! We don’t see a lot of cheese curds in Pittsburgh, but at Renard’s they take great pleasure in demonstrating how the fresh curds squeak in your teeth. Yes, I said squeak in your teeth. They have a great website, that sells their authentic Wisconsin cheddar cheese. I have to mention, I bought several different kinds of cheese to bring back to Pittsburgh and I made THE best macaroni and cheese using just a hint of their Ghost Pepper Cheddar!

Door County’s most nostalgic place to eat cheese curds is Wilson’s Restaurant and Ice Cream Parlor. Located in Ephraim, right in the heart of this quaint little bay town stands this Door County landmark. The old fashioned soda fountain opened its door in 1906, serving up simple fare and home-brewed root beer to families and friends.  The classic red and white décor of ice cream parlors welcomes all patrons and the friendly service makes it a destination for both refreshment and relaxation year after year.

The historic Hardy Gallery sits just across the street on Eagle Harbor. The gallery, which aims to educate the public on the importance of the arts, as well as promoting the visual arts and artists of the Door County Peninsula with seasonal exhibitions, educational programs and special events that help enrich the cultural fabric of Door County. One of the gallery’s most successful fundraising endeavors is The Community Mosaic Project which sells 300 6 x 6 canvases through a lottery process, charging $25 for each canvas. You can read more about the project at

Evenings in Door County offer the beautiful sunsets over Sister Bay. Fred and Fuzzy’s Waterfront Bar and Grill, located on the edge of the bay is the ideal spot to enjoy both quality food, and those beautiful sunsets.  It offers a casual, relaxing atmosphere in addition to the breathtaking scenery. Reasonable prices, friendly service and a smoke free environment only add to the charm. The menu boasts a wide variety of options, ranging from burgers, wraps, salads and fish fry. Nightwire recommends Fred and Fuzzy’s original, Door County Cherry Margarita. Check them out at

Door County Coffee Company, located in Carlsville, WI is a “must see” for coffee lovers. The family owned business, which has grown exponentially since 1993 serves and ships some of the finest Specialty Class 1 Arabica coffee beans to customers near and far. Founder Vicki Wilson hosted a breakfast and tour of her company, offering a delicious meal, accompanied with even better coffee. Vicki and her staff roast several types of beans in their processing facility, which can be seen through the café windows.  If you’re in need of a little retail therapy, Door County Coffee Company offers a fully stocked gift shop, or visit their website at

By now, it’s probably clear that Door County is made up of many small villages resting on the harbor. What you might not know is that Door County is home to dozens or artists, artisans and fine craftspeople.  As an artist myself, it seemed like heaven. I saw beautiful barns converted into studios and galleries filled with patrons looking to buy and collect works of art. With a Land Trust to protect the natural environment of the area, you’ll find yourself taking a leisurely drive to admire the beauty of the area. However, that leisurely drive will quickly result in many stops at the shops and galleries are tucked quietly away on the back roads of Door County. A particular stunning example of working artists involves a visit to Morning Mist Studio at Windmill Farm where painter Ed Fenendael and his partner Frank Villigan operate a Bed and Breakfast in a restored farmhouse. The farmhouse is absolutely picturesque and serves as inspirations for many of Ed’s watercolor paintings. The Bed and Breakfast offers reasonable rates, but books up fast, so if you’re interested in staying at a great Bed and Breakfast, visit their website at

Further down the road, we stopped for a visit at potter Renee’ Schwaller’s Studio and Gallery, Off the Wheel Pottery. Another renovated farm and granary turned into creative space, Renee demonstrated pulling a pot from clay during our visit. To see more of Renee’s work, visit her website

Our next stop was Edgewood Orchard Galleries, which is one of the Midwest’s most respected art galleries. Located on 80 acres between Egg Harbor and Fish Creek, the gallery features paintings, jewelry, sculptures, glass, clay and wood pieces from more than 100 artists. In its third generation of family ownership, current gallery owners Neil and J.R. Jarosh welcome visitors to this unique place that calls people to return year and year. Edgewood hosts a spectacular sculpture garden where I felt I could wander around all day. The grounds are just as beautiful as the gallery and I highly recommend a visit! To check out more about the gallery, go to their website

My favorite studio visit was Woodwalk Gallery where painter Margaret Lockwood’s ethereal landscapes draw you in through misty layers and muted colors. The 1890’s barn and straw bale construction house 47 regional artists in a contemporary art gallery, rivaling any gallery in any city.  I fell in love with Margaret Lockwood not only for her studio barn space or her lovely paintings, but also for the way she spoke about believing in young artists. She has pieces of art in her gallery that take years to sell, but she believes in those artists so much that she doesn’t get rid of them. Woodwalk Gallery also has a large performance/event area where live music is played during the summer.  Underneath the large gallery is Woodwalk’s Handmade Paper Center. Artist Kirsten Christianson teaches classes and workshops promoting handmade paper as an art form and means of creative expression. She encourages students to explore natural materials from the environment. What fun we had creating our own paper! Check out this amazing space and all of its offerings, as well as Margaret’s stunning paintings at

Hands on Art Studio offers authentic artistic and creative experiences through many different mediums including jewelry, glass fusing, metal sculpture, spin art, ceramics and mosaics. The staff is very knowledgeable and talented! This farm/art complex has something for everyone, including activities for the young and old. My hardest decision was what to make. My traveling companion and I settled on glass fusing. We sat outside on the fresh air patio with our parts and pieces and began to create art! The studio ships pieces to you so you don’t have to worry about breaking them in your luggage. Special Adult Nights, Summer Camps and other fun activities are offered. Read all about Hands on Art Studio at

Traversing the peninsula and traipsing through shops and galleries can start to make you hungry! Here’s a few local favorites you might want to try:

Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant is an authentic Swedish, family owned establishment where you can find goats grazing on the grass roof! It’s one of the most famous places in Door County and not just for the goats. Lignonberries are served by girls in Scandinavian attire and the Swedish meatballs are a must! We went for breakfast so we would be sure to see the goats, but it’s not all kitsch. Al Johnson’s is a favorite for the food, the friendliness and the hospitality. The website, is worth a look for the goat cam and the video of “How the goats got on our roof!”

Bistro 42 located at Door County Winery in Carlsville hosts a classy but casual dining experience. The menu features exceptionally fresh and local ingredients, which compliment the award winning wines. If wine isn’t your thing, Door County Distillery offers liquors and Shipwrecked hand crafted beers. We had a nice, relaxed lunch in the middle of a hectic day. I suggest trying one of their delicious brick fired pizzas with a glass of red wine.  Check out their menu at

Rowley’s Bay Restaurant is another local favorite where you can have an authentic fish boil. Chefs brought our fresh Lake Michigan Whitefish that were lowered into a boiling pot of salted water, with potatoes and onion, where they were cooked like they were 100 years ago by Scandinavian settlers. Rowley’s is a small vintage resort with so much charm; you might never want to leave. The modern restaurant presents the fish boil on a buffet with many choices and homemade goodies. When visiting Door County, Rowley’s is a must! To learn more about the restaurant, visit their website at

In addition to the wonderful tasting restaurants, Door County is a cultural hub for theatre and music. Each year the Peninsula Music Festival hosts a 3-week run of concerts featuring a symphony with musicians from all over the country. The American Folklore Theatre ( performs at Peninsula Stake Park’s Amphitheater in the open summer air. It was a wonderful experience to see such a high quality production in the middle of a state park. Another theatre worth visiting is the Peninsula Players Theatre, America’s oldest professional summer theatre. Located in the gardens of Fish Creek, the theatre was built with sliding walls that are opened on warm summer evenings.  To see what else the Peninsula Players Theatre offers, visit their website at

To request an Official Visitor’s guide, visit


Timmerman’s Brewery

Icon Written by admin on April 2, 2014 – 8:33 pm

Timmerman’s Brewery By: Chris Wise

With over 300 years of family tradition under their belts, Timmerman’s Brewery is the oldest Lambic Brewery still operating in Belgium today. Founded in 1702 in Itterbeek, just outside Brussels, by Jacobus Walravens, Timmerman’s was originally known as “The Mole Brewery.” Renamed Timmerman’s Brewery in honor of Frans Timmerman in the early 20th century, they remain one of only six breweries in the world to produce Lambic beers. All six of the breweries are located around Brussels due to the highly unusual way Lambic beers are fermented.

Lambic Brewing

Unlike lagers or ales, which are fermented according to the carefully selected strains of yeast picked out by a brewer, Lambic beers use the naturally occurring yeast in the air of the Zenne valley of Belgium to ferment. By reacting to the yeast and microbacteria in the air around Brussels, the beer is spontaneously fermented and given its unique sour finish. Since the brewers do not control how much yeast is involved or when it is introduced, the process can take much longer than other styles, with many taking multiple years to complete a batch.

The process begins by filling grain silos with up to 30,000 kg of grain, after which the grain is then crushed on machines Timmerman’s has been using since 1911. Priding them on using traditional machines in their brewing process, most of the equipment has not been changed since the early 20th century. In the crusher, the grain’s core and husk are separated, and then conveyed to a malt hopper, where the ingredients are stored before heading to the thickening tank.

This thickening is achieved by heating the tank with water at 195°F till the mash reaches the desired thickness. The process then continues through a filtration tank, where the mash is meticulously filtered and washed in order to extract as much as sugar as possible from the grains. This sugar will be transformed into alcohol during maturation. The process then moves onto the shallow cooler, where the fermenting takes place.

The shallow cooler is the origin of the most crucial and mysterious phase of the Lambic’s production. Here the mash will be naturally cooled to 68°F, in contact with the ambient air, and the two micro organisms (Brettanomyces Bruxellensis & Brettanomyces Lambicus) will blend into the mash, provoking the magic of natural spontaneous fermentation, without the addition of yeast. These micro organisms are only found in a 10 mile radius around Brussels, a phenomenon that remains unexplainable to this day, even for the greatest of specialists.

The cooled mash is transferred to the maturation rooms, where two kinds of kegs can be discovered: Casks (6500 litres) and Pipes (650 litres), kegs made of 100% oak and chestnut. The Lambic traditionally matures in these casks or pipes, many of them once used for Port Wine. To transform all the yeast, the entire fermentation process can take two to three years. Fermentation is a chain reaction that clarifies the complex flavour and odour of Lambic. Depending on the weather, fermentation begins after several days.

Depending on the style of Lambic, the process can either end here, or continue in the addition of more ingredients, but only after the Lambic brew is allowed to fully finish fermenting. Some Lambics have fruit added to them, such as raspberries, cherries, or strawberries. Timmerman’s then ages these fruit Lambics six more months after the fruit has been added, to allow the fruit to naturally dissolve completely. By using real fruit and allowing it dissolve completely, the taste of the fruit is added but not the sweetness, so the sour finish of the brew is preserved. Other Lambics are known as Gueuze Lambics combine Lambics of different recipes and ages to result in a very interesting twist on the style.

With over 300 years brewing experience, Timmerman’s has consistently produced stunning beers, unique not only in the unusual way they are fermented but also in their flavor profile. While some beer drinkers used to lagers and ales may not be immediately know what to make of beers, which pride themselves on tart and sour flavors, these delicious brews, will win over the most skeptical beer drinker. If you’re trying your first Lambic beer, try one of the fruit styles first which have a milder flavor profile compared to the more tart styles. Timmerman’s offers a wide range of Lambics, which will please everyone from the beginner to the most experienced Lambic beer drinker.


Frambiose Lambicus

Faithfully reflecting the distinct color and flavor of raspberries, with subtle traces of lambicus acidity, this beer is matured in 100% oak casks. This recipe’s wonderful flavor reaches its peak with its intensely fresh after-taste and is A great introduction to the world of Lamic beers.
ABV: 4.0%

Kriek Lambicus

Owing its sweet, fruity bouquet and tart flavor to the distinct Nordic sour cherry, this Kriek beer is light yet flavorful and easy to drink. Adding whole cherries, pit and all, gives the beer an almond flavor, which balances the tartness, both naturally occur in Lambics and from the Nordic cherries. This beer uses more cherries per liter than any other beer; the fruity flavors balance the earthy flavors nicely. This beer is fermented an additional six months once bottled to achieve the perfect taste profile.
ABV: 4.0%

Strawberry Lambicus

It’s light and fruity freshness comes from an abundance of delicious strawberries, which first catch the nose upon opening the bottle, then with every sip that follows. Its taste is constant and spreads very quickly in the mouth to finish his journey on a touch more fruity than sweet. Another great addition in Timmerman’s fruit infused Lambics.
ABV: 4.0%

Timmermans Blanche

By adding spices such as coriander and dried orange peel, a fruity beer, light, cleverly subtle and “spicy” is obtained. Deliberately cloudy and aged at least one year, this recipe is brewed in the style of traditional farmers in the region by the Lambic with wheat to achieve a truly unique Lambic. A bit sourer than the other “fruit Lambics,” this is a good introduction into the world of sour beers.
ABV: 4.5%
Timmerman’s Pumpkin
Upon visiting the United States and being amazed by the amount of seasonal beers offered, Timmerman’s decided to try out this inspired Lambic. Aged between 8 months to a year, this recipe combines earthy pumpkin aromas and delicate fall spices to produce a crisp, sweet acidity followed by a subtle dryness to finish.
ABV: 4.0%

Bourgogne Des Flanders

Brewed by Timmerman’s while the brewery in Rogue is finished, this Lambic starts with a high gravity, high alcohol content Belgian Brown Ale and infuse it with 1-year-old Timmerman’s Lambic. The mixture is then fermented in a port barrel for another 8 months, and the result is a Lambic with a somewhat sweet depth of Belgian ale to start, with rich toffee flavors and a tart finish.
ABV: 5.2%
Oude Kriek
Fermented in the bottle, this Lambic produces a light and crisp beer with a sour, cherry explosion. This recipe is one of the most labor intensive of Timmerman’s products, with years of work going into every batch, but the beer will keep in the bottle for up to 12 years!
ABV: 4.8%

Oude Gueuze

A mixture of 3-year-old Lambic with 1-year-old Lambic, this gueuze spontaneously ferments inside the bottle, and produces a sparkly, tart and citrusy Lambic. The most striking flavor profile among all the Lambics, this recipe highlights the effects of the mysterious spontaneous fermentation indigenous only to this region. This Lambic will continue to age well for 20 years after bottled.
ABV: 5.5%

Stonepepper’s Grill – Pittsburgh

Icon Written by admin on February 24, 2014 – 6:19 pm

Stonepepper’s Grill –                                                             By:  Monique DeMonaco

Stonepepper’s Grill’s tagline is Food You Luv to Love!  That certainly turned out to be the case when a small group of Nightwire staff braved a cold February night to review Stonepepper’s Robinson Township location.    The minute you walk in the door, the eclectic mix of industrial architecture, natural stone and copper hues lets you know a lot has gone into designing something contemporary…industrial chic meets warm and inviting!   Restaurant veterans Jeff and Barbara Joyce knew what they are doing and it shows.   Many of you may remember 1902 Landmark Tavern in Market Square.  Throughout their more than 30 years in the business, the Joyce’s have always followed trends, diligently researched suppliers, frequented food shows and taken note when they have traveled to cities such as Boston and New York.

When they felt the time was right, they decided to move away from the fine dining model of the 1902 Restaurant and use their creativity and innovation to create something fresh and new, Stonepepper’s.  From the moment you sit down, the options are tempting, whether its an interesting micro-brew to quench your thirst, a fun cocktail such as the Big Bang Berry libation (my personal favorite), a nice glass of wine or a simply delicious old fashioned milkshake…you won’t be sorry.

While they certainly offer an expanded menu, it is not at all overwhelming.  Whether it’s their  “tried and true” wings ($7.99) you’re after, a large enough to share order of the Double Secret Sauce Fries with Bacon (not to missed, by the way) or something a little more health conscious such as the lettuce wraps (9.49)~ the appetizers set the tone to let you know this place isn’t a chain.  But rather, a thoughtfully designed menu that offers Foods You Luv to Love by people who understand what it means to run a successful “mom and pop” restaurant in today’s competitive marketplace.  With chains seemingly on every corner, Stonepepper Grill sets itself apart.  The appetizers were not only delicious, but also generous enough to share so after taking the edge of our hunger, we settled in to watch a few minutes of basketball while we awaited our entrees.

At Stonepepper’s Grill, they take their salads seriously.  Seriously now, there are 14 different salads on the menu and each one looked better than the last.  Not only are their salads delicious, but also they are visually appealing.  They are known for their  “bodacious salads” and I’m not surprised.  Each one is brimming with freshly chopped ingredients presented in rows so you can clearly see what you are getting…lots of freshly chopped vegetables and toppings.  We’ve all had the experience of ordering a “specialty salad” other places only to have to search for the “specialty” amongst “ no better than average” salad greens.  That doesn’t happen at Stonepeppers.

Personally, I loved, loved, loved the Grilled Salmon Salad! ($14.49)  The salmon is topped with an orange glaze that has the taste of marmalade without the heaviness or overpowering sweetness.   The salmon sits atop generous rows of slivered almonds that give it a refreshing crunch, flavorful black beans, freshly chopped red peppers,   crisp greens and  orange slices,  that provide an  unexpected flavor flash.  While you can choose from any one of the more than 12 house-made dressings, I recommend the mango vinaigrette.

With so many tasty entrée options to choose from, we decided to sample and share several of them.    A couple of the guys went for burgers.  These are not your typical burgers!  With 11 burgers to choose from, whether it’s their signature SPG Burger made with 100% Angus beef ($9.29),  “Shakin’ with the Bacon” double cheeseburger  ($12.99) or the Hickory Bacon Burger ($10.99),  my personal favorite, you won’t be disappointed.  Keep in mind, the most expensive burger on the menu is $12.99  so that makes Stonepepper Grill  the obvious choice for  great burgers AND shakes.  By the way, their fries simply can’t be beat…crispy AND flavorful.

When it comes to sandwiches, Stonepepper’s has something for everyone.  Whether it’s the Maryland Lump Crabcake Sandwich ($12.99), the Steak Bomb,” ($10.49), the brand new California Turkey Avocado and Bacon Burger ($10.99) or the Chicken and Cranberry Wrap, sandwiches are another great choice.  While its offered as a side, the Chinese Coleslaw is not the conventional heavy creamy coleslaw most of us grew up with.    It is light, fresh and the uncooked ramen noodles sprinkled on top give it a nice crunch…a truly light and healthy option.  Regardless of which sandwich you choose, you can’t go wrong, all were delicious.   The breads are all fresh, the meats are plentiful and toppings are well chosen.

If pizza is more to your liking,  Stonepeppers knows what they are doing.  Their state-of-the-art brick oven bakes up delicious thin and crispy pizza crust that serves as the perfect platform for their signature SPG “Hot Oil” Pizza.   An idea they came up with when the Joyces were  visiting NYC… a flavorful cheese pizza drizzled with Hot Pepper Oil that provides a nice “kick” that could become  addictive.   I had never heard of “Hot Oil Pizza”, but I am a convert now…as a matter of fact, I’m taking my family back there this weekend to get more!

Our final entrée of the evening was a house specialty, Pasta Jambalaya!  It is a innovative  twist on a classic dish.  Instead of the typical rice, Stonepeppers uses linguini so you can get all the flavors of hot sausage, Cajun grilled shrimp, chicken and mix of banana peppers, sweet peppers and green onions tossed in a delicious creamy Cajun sauce.  Fragrant, colorful, rich (but not heavy)…enough said!

For those who have room for dessert, whether it’s an Old Fashion Hot Fudge Sundae, delicious Carrot Cake, New York Cheesecake or a Double Chocolate Brownie with Vanilla Bean Ice-cream, all can be had for just $5.99!

Stonepeppers celebrates Happy Hour everyday from 4:30 – 7:00 with lots of reasons to be happy.  All appetizers are $5…even their Big Bang Shrimp appetizer which is a house specialty and generous enough to share.  If delicious shrimp isn’t your thing, consider a brick oven quesadilla or a healthy, yet flavorful, sun-dried tomato hummus with fresh veggies and pita bread.

Stonepepper’s has it all~  great food with generous portions, delicious drinks to quench any thirst, a welcoming and attentive staff   AND  relaxing atmosphere…stop in sooner verses later because you are going to want to go back for more  Foods You Luv to Love!

They have two convenient locations:  Robinson Twp. – 1200 Settlers Ridge Center Drive – Open: Mon-Sat: 11am – Sun: Open at Noon – 412.788.0202.  Upper St. Clair – 1614 Washington Road – Open: Mon-Sat 11am – Sun: Open at Noon – 412.854-4264 – for more information visit

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Victory Brewing Company

Icon Written by admin on February 24, 2014 – 6:14 pm

Victory Brewing Company

by Ricky Perrotta

Pennsylvania has developed a well-deserved reputation for producing quality craft beer. A 2013 article in USA Today cited Pennsylvania as one of the top 10 craft brew states in America. According to the New Yorker, only four states – California, Oregon, Washington, and Michigan – boast more craft breweries than Pennsylvania. At the forefront is Downington, PA’s Victory Brewing Company, owned and operated by Ron Barchet and Bill Covaleski. Not only is Victory the largest craft brewery in PA, they rank 26th nationally. Beers such as the HopDevil, Prima Pils, and Golden Monkey are well known to beer connoisseurs across America. 2014 looks to be another exciting year in the history of the brewery as Victory has recently expanded production, increased their already impressive sustainability efforts, and unveiled several new beverages.

In 1996, Mr. Barchet and Mr. Covelski famously repurposed a Pepperidge Farm factory to create a 300 seat restaurant, 70 foot long bar, and full scale brewery in Downington. That year Victory produced a modest 1,725 barrels. Things have picked up. Their new facility in Parkesburg, PA will initially produce 225,000 barrels a year. That’s a stunning increase of 12,943%. At full capacity, it will be able to produce over 500,000 barrels. Victory once sold to the surrounding area. Now they distribute beer in 34 states and overseas to Japan, Singapore, the United Kingdom, Sweden and the Cayman Islands. But, true to their history, much more went into this expansion process than the mere concern to brew greater quantities of beer.

Victory was recently awarded the 2014 Sustainable Agriculture Business Leadership Award by the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture. Their website,, states, “We are proud to harness the energy of the sun to power our beer-making with the installation of 345 photovoltaic panels.” These panels produce “approximately 82,000kWh of clean, green electricity each year.” A photovoltaic panel is generally referred to as a solar panel. Victory has been recognized for their efforts in this area by PennEnvironment, which stated, “Victory’s solar electric project shows that businesses continue to turn to clean, renewable energy to protect the environment and reduce their costs.” Beyond solar power, Victory also has an agreement with a local farmer who recycles their nearly 25,000 pounds of spent grains a year to use as food for his animals. And Victory has initiated a composting project which has allowed them to compost 73 tons of food waste annually since 2010.

Quality of water and environmental impact were also taken into account when choosing a site for the new facility. The Parkesburg facility is located within 20 miles of the original Downington facility, and its water is supplied by the same Brandeywine Creek, though a different branch. Eight months of water-quality research revealed the mineral composition of the 2 branches is nearly identical, meaning the quality of the beer will not be compromised by this expansion.

Victory is also aware that ever-increasing competition in the craft beer market means ingenuity is at a premium. Toward that end, they have released several new beers within the last year and are moving into the 22oz bottle market. The Hop Wallop has been replaced by the already popular Dirt Wolf Double IPA. Victory sold 3,000 barrels of the Dirt Wolf from October to December alone. The Dirt Wolf, at 8.7% ABV, has a thick mouthfeel, but is wonderfully balanced; the use of whole flower hops gives it a floral, citrus character that is very refreshing. In the 12oz variety, Victory has also released a new spring seasonal called the Swing Session Saison, a holiday wheat ale called the Winter Cheers, and an Imperial IPA for the winter called the Hop Ranch.

In the 22oz format, Victory will be releasing the Mad King’s Weiss, a European style wheat ale. The Mad King (6.2% ABV) tastes strongly of cloves and other spices, but has a sweet, fruity aspect to it as well, typical of the effervescent style. This beer will also be available on tap from April to August. They are also set to release a special ale in honor of their 18th anniversary and the opening of their new Parkesburg facility, the 1337 Ale (6.0% ABV). It will be a throwback based on an older homebrewing recipe of Mr. Barchet and Mr. Covelski’s.

Of course, the innovative Victory Brewing Company plans on continuing to innovate in all aspects of their business, from ecological awareness, to marketing, to brewing, and 2014 promises to be another great year for the popular Pennsylvania brewery and its fans. For more information, please visit Victory is proudly distributed in Pittsburgh by Vecenie Distributing.

The New Victory Beers:

Swing Session Saison

Swing. It’s a lively jazz rhythm, a vigorous sway or even a serendipitous change of view. It’s also the welcome jolt of joy you’ll experience upon your first sip of this session saison. Swing into refreshment this season!

  • Malt: German malt and grains (Rye, oats and wheat).
  • Hops: Hopped with German and American hops. Spiced with peppercorns, orange peel and fresh lemon zest. Belgian saison yeasts.
  • ABV: 4.5%
  • Flavor: With its citrus swagger and spicyrefreshment, Swing Session Saison offers you a jazzy jolt of joy. This Belgian-style ale is bracing but benign and enlivens any experience.
  • Availability: Spring seasonal in 12 oz. Bottles.

Dirt Wolf Double IPA

Darkly heroic, Humulus Lupulus (hops) have empowered brews with bite and character since the 11th century. DirtWolf is a tribute to these untamed vines which rise from the earth with the voracity of a “wolf among sheep.” Hops have made an assertive comeback in American craft brewing. Revel in the best U.S. varieties of hops, in their natural, whole flower form, as they bring a vital, pungent reality to the soul of a wild element in our dangerously satisfying DirtWolf Double IPA.

  • Malt: Imported two-row malts
  • Hops: Whole flower Citra, Chinook, Simcoe and Mosaic hops
  • ABV: 8.7%
  • Flavor: This dangerously delicious recipefeatures often subtle, but sometimes assertive signatures of American hop varieties. Look for: Citra: heavy citrus aroma, fruity flavor; Chinook: grapefruit, resinous pine; Simcoe: dry, piney; and Mosaic: earthy and mildly floral, with notes of sweet citrus and spice.
  • Availability: Available year-round in 12oz. bottles and on draft.

Winter Cheers Wheat Ale

Winter weather may drive us indoors but cannot dampen our spirits when hearth, home and hops meet in jubilation. Hoisted high in its golden glory, Winter Cheers lives up to its name, fueling festive times and chasing winter’s chill. Glowing and glimmering, frothy and shimmering, our celebratory wheat ale features luscious fruity and spicy notes, making it a perfect brew to brighten spirits even on the deepest of nights.

  • Malt: German wheat and barley malts, and oats
  • Hops: Whole flower Tettnang and Citra hops
  • ABV: 6.7%
  • Flavor: Light in body, this fruity and warming holiday brew delivers a crisp finish, with spicy hints of banana, clove and citrus.
  • Availability: Holiday seasonal in 12 oz. bottles and on draft.

Hop Ranch Imperial IPA

To our hop ranchers, who coax and cultivate our enticing and flavorful hops, we raise this glass. Selecting the finest varieties in their natural, whole flower form, we craft our Hop Ranch Imperial India Pale Ale, as a celebration of their successes. Pungent, floral and intense, this represents America’s best, in every relaxing sip.

  • Malt: Pilsner
  • Hops: Mosaic and Azacca
  • ABV: 9.0%
  • Flavor: This powerful brew features full,juicy hop character, while expressing notes of mango, pineapple and the pleasantly sharp, biting edges of tart citrus fruit.
  • Availability: Winter seasonal available in 12oz. bottles and on draft.

Mad King’s Weiss

Bavaria’s fabled Ludwig was said to be ‘mad.’ The same might be said of us for approaching this German beer style with fistfuls of hops beyond the norm for this style and yeast from Belgium!

  • Malt: Imported two-row German malts, including wheat
  • Hops: Whole flower German hops
  • ABV: 6.2%
  • Flavor: High-powered with all German malts and the subtle, spicy complexity of our special yeast, Mad King’s Weiss offers a quenching quality that can’t be beat.
  • Availability: Available from April through August in 22oz. bottles and on draft.

1337 Ale

  • ABV: 6.0%
  • Release Date: Late February
  • Details yet to be released.


Rogue Brewery

Icon Written by admin on February 24, 2014 – 6:12 pm

Rogue Brewery                                                                     by:  Chris Wise

In the fight against mass-produced, bland tasting beer, one company is attempting to start a full-scale beer revolution. Rogue, which produces spirits in addition to their many varieties of beers, believes in the power of innovation and striving for an excellent product. Rogue has been operating for over 25 years, and has built a reputation putting the quality of their product of the quantity of money they make, and helping bring attention to the revolution currently happening within the beer-universe.

The revolution owes its roots to four men, Jack Joyce, Bob Woodell, Rob Strasser and Jeff Schultz, a 10 gallon bbl brewing system and a 60-seat brewpub in  Ashland, OR. In 1988 the first Rogue Public House was opened by the four friends, pushing out their first two recipes: Amber and Gold. While the response from the public was encouraging, it quickly became apparent Rogue needed to expand in order to survive past their first winter. So in February of 1989 Jack Joyce took a drive to Newport to look for their next location.

A winter storm closed in quickly on the small town, leaving Jack’s stuck with no way out of town that night. So Jack walked into town until he was rescued by Mohave “Mo” Niemi, founder of the famous Mo’s Clam Chowder. As Jack was warming up with a hot bowl of clam chowder Niemi told him about her dream to live above a bar, claiming she had the answer to Rogue’s expansion problem. Niemi offered to help Jack secure the new location, on two conditions: Rogue “feed the fishermen,” or give back to the local community, and hang a picture of Mo, naked in a bathtub, above the bar(which is still there to this day.) Jack quickly agreed, and that same month Rogue began construction to relocate from a basement in Ashland to a garage in Newport.

In May of 1989, Rogue’s Revolution gained an important member of their team when John “More Hops” Maier joined the team as Brewmaster. John left The Alaskan Brewery to join Rogue, having won the American Homebrewer Association’s Homebrewer of the Year Award only three years before in 1986. John Maier was present for the first batch of brew in Newport, OR in 1989, and has brewed over 100,000 pints of beer for Rogue since.

The first location in Newport served as the base of their brewing operation for only three years, when the brewery system was moved across the bay to its current location, but remains open today as the Rogue Ales Public House(still with the picture of Mo above the bar.) Rogue has kept expanding since that time, and now the Rogue empire includes multiple locations around Portland, a pub in the Portland Airport, their own farm complex in Independence, OR, pubs in Issaquah, WA, and San Francisco, CA. Rogue locations are all family friendly, with kid friendly menus and even free water and food options for your dog. The Hop’N’Bed at the Independence farmhouse gives Rogue visitors the option to stay overnight for a longer tour of the facilities (what sounds more relaxing than bed and breakfast and beer?) and two apartments are available for stays above their Newport location.

Rogue’s empire doesn’t consist of simply a few pubs and a bed and breakfast. Today, Rogue has their own museum, library, university, newspaper,  film company, record company, publishing company, 24-hour news operations, coins and currency, passports, national ID cards, stamps, license plates, a flag, a constitution, uniforms, shoes, a Creamery, a national past time, a literary journal, a bakery, a chef laureate, a bull, a pledge and boxer shorts.

Hard work and dedication has brought Rogue a great deal of recognition for their continued efforts within the brewing industry: Rogue has won over 1000 awards during their history, a complete list of which can be found on their website under the awards section. One of the truly impressive feats when looking at this list is how Rogue has maintained a consistent level of outstanding quality since their first award, a gold medal at the 1990 Great American Beer Festival awarded to their Smoke Ale. Rogue now sells their 37 ales in all 50 states and in 32 different countries around the world (including 50% of the craft beer market in Guam).

Rogue Brewing operates under six simple guidelines: To brew the finest varietal ales & spirits in the world with an uncompromising devotion to Quality and the Art of Brewing; To present the finished work with a touch of educational, entertaining mischief; To be dedicated to the Rogue in each of us; To remember it is not simply a matter of profit but a highly personal work of art; To build relationships, not just ales; To be like great friends and remember it’s what’s inside that counts. Rogue is proud of the success they have achieved using their straightforward approach, and invites all their customers to visit the production sites for themselves. Customers can visit the Newport brewpub or Independence Farm to get a behind the scenes look at all the work that goes into making a Rogue brew and meet with the people that make this company so special. Make sure to try the 7 Hop IPA which combines all the hops Rogue Farms at Independence grows in a delicious Pale Ale.

Next time you’re at the beer outlet deciding between the cheaper, mass produced beers and the higher quality craft brews, grab a case of Rogue and join the revolution.


American Amber Ale

Delightfully yummy as can be, this coffee aroma beer showcases an excellent amber. Containing Cascade hops and three different malts, American Amber Ale is full of caramel, bread and hops smells. The taste hides notes of floral and citrus, as well as a bitter finish. This recipe is truly full of balance and grace, and shows what Rogue is all about: unpretentious, great tasting beer.

ABV – 5.6%

46 Awards

Shakespeare Oatmeal Stout

This American-style stout contains earthy flavors with a creamy, chocolate finish. Drink it with a dessert – it practically is one itself! It tastes of slightly roasted malts, but the smoothness of the oats softens the entire drinking experience. There is just a hint of both coffee and dark chocolate finish.

Shakespeare Oatmeal Stout is now also available in 12oz, 6 packs.

ABV – 6.1%

61 Awards

Dead Guy Ale

Brewed as a mock German Maibock, this beer is deep honey in color and has a highly malty aroma. Made with Perle and Saaz hops and four punchy malts, the body is extremely creamy. The smells circle around coffee, butter, malts, sugars and all other delightful scents. The taste follows by being sweet, but with enough bitter kick to back it up.

ABV – 6.5%

28 Awards

Brutal IPA

Bitters on bitters on bitters, this is a greatly adventurous IPA. It has all the classic citrus and grassy hop flavors and aromas, but amplified! The bitter taste does not overpower the malts and sweet tastes. Surprisingly well balanced for the amount of hops, the bready aspect also dips into a pineapple blast, making this a memorable IPA.

ABV – 5.8%

28 Awards

Chipotle Ale

An interesting ale to say the least – they say spice is the variety of life! Well this beer does it well. The aroma is literally smoky, as well malty. The taste hits notes of spice, malts, pepper and leaves the tongue happy, if not a little singed. It’s a flavor burst, mixed into a great brew, that you’ll just have to try for yourself!

ABV – 5.5%

15 Awards

Visit to look at their list of brews, awards, locations, take an online tour, or learn a little more about the Rogue Revolution. Distributed locally by Frank B. Fuhrer Wholesale Inc.

Thirsty Dog

Icon Written by admin on February 24, 2014 – 6:11 pm

When John Najeway was approached by a friend to go work at the newly opened Thirsty Dog brewpub in Canton, Ohio in 1997, he scarcely could have imagined how far his decision would take him. Thirsty Dog celebrates seventeen years in business this February, and in that time have gone through two brewpubs in Centerville and Akron then began production brewing in 2003. In 2007 Thirsty Dog was proud to open their own production facility on Grant Street in the heart of Akron, Ohio. Their location is in the old Burkhardt Brewing Co. building, which has its roots back to the 1800’s.

Thirsty Dog has been doing so well since 2007, they’ve needed to expand to accommodate five new 90-gallon tanks added last spring. The added production capacity brings Thirsty Dog’s total capacity to 25,000 barrels of brew a year, which they distribute in 14 states, and most recently became available in New York City. This added production capacity has also allowed Najeway and Thirsty Dog to roll out new lines that have excited their fans.

One such line of recipes are their sour recipe program which began in 2011. The brewmasters have been perfecting their sour recipes at their tasting room in the brewery, and are getting ready for their first sour release. Cerasus Dog Flanders Style Red Ale is set to release in 6-packs of bottles this April. The expanded production capacity also allows Thirsty Dog to roll out more of their wildly popular 12 Dogs of Christmas Ale which has become a winter favorite of Ohioans everywhere. Also, Thirsty Dog has been able to devote an entire room in their facility to barrel aging in both wine barrels and wine barrels.

Thirsty Dog has been able to grow an impressive rate, but points to the success craft brewing has had in Ohio in the recent past. And John Najeway has more to do with it than simply producing great beer at Thirsty Dog. Najeway also co-founded the Ohio Craft Brewer Association, a group of Ohio brewers looking to raise awareness for locally produced beer. Najeway and the Brewer Association also began a tradition ten years ago called Blues and Brews, the largest craft brewing festival in Ohio, which celebrates the great music and beers from around the Akron area and to raise money to give back to the community which shows them so much support. Since the association was founded in 2007, the number of craft brewers in Ohio has jumped from 24 to an amazing 105. Najeway’s work at both Thirsty Dog and the Ohio Craft Brewer Association has helped the buckeye state achieve status among the nations best states for craft beer.

While Najeway has been busy growing Ohio brewing as a whole and expanding the capacity of Thirsty Dog, he hasn’t lost sight of how he got to this point. Thirsty Dog Brewing is known for great beers with clever canine names, such as Barkotoberfest, Labrador Lager, and Whippet Wheat. If you can’t decide what to start with try the Kennel Collection, Thirsty Dog’s variety pack with seasonal offerings. Thirsty Dog’s two original recipes, Old Leghumper and Siberian Night remain in production and among Thirsty Dog’s best sellers. Thirsty Dog currently offers 16 varieties available in bottles with 10 additional varieties available in draft only.

Thirsty Dog has also brought back a piece of their history to celebrate how far they’ve come in the past years by hanging their original sign from the Canton brewpub above the Akron production facility. It seems fitting bring back a piece of their history as they get set to take a major step forward after years of expansion. So remember, while dog might be man’s best friend, a thirsty man’s friend is a Thirsty Dog beer.


Old Leghumper

A robust porter, dark brown in color and full-bodied with a malty sweet taste. Deep roasted, yet silky-smooth! Two types of roasted malts, including deep-roasted chocolate malt are used to give this porter a rich, chocolatey taste. Available year round.

World Beer Cup – Gold Medal in 2002, Bronze Medal in 2000

ABV – 6.7%

24 IBUs

Siberian Night Imperial Stout

Imperial Stouts are by their nature very, very dark and rich, and Siberian Night is no exception. With a deep-roasted, satisfying flavor generated from massive amounts of roasted, toasted and caramel malts. It’s creamy and full-bodied character is perfect for those that demand a rich and flavorful stout. Also available in Bourbon Barrel Aged version, which is aged for 11 months which perfectly blends the chocolate flavors of the malts with the vanilla flavors from the barrel. Original available year round and Barrel Aged variety available November through February.

Great American Beer Festival – Gold Medal in 2005, Bronze Medal in 2003 and 2006

ABV – 9.7%

58 IBUs

Twisted Kilt Scottish Export Ale

This Scottish Ale gets its unique flavor and aroma through a special, time consuming, extra long and vigorous boil. The wonderful caramelized flavors produced blend perfectly with the balanced flavors of roasted barley and complementing hops. Raise a glass of this very drinkable beer to ANY occasion! Available year round.

ABV – 5.3%

13.5 IBUs

Rail Dog Smoked Black Lager

This lager has the most complex grain bill of any in Thirsty Dog’s lineup. They roast grains in their ovens and add their own proprietary apple-smoked grain for even more complexity. The final result is a smooth, easy drinking, lightly smoked, delicious brew. Available year round.

ABV – 6.7%

24 IBUs

Labrador Lager Dortmunder

Quintessential as the breed its named after, this recipe is true to style down to the European hops and yeast.  This brew loyally follows the German brewing traditions of lagering or aging. When you unleash the flavor of this light golden colored, perfectly balanced beer, you too will become a loyola friend of Thristy Dog Brewing Company. Available year round.

ABV – 6%

22 IBUs

Citra Dog American IPA

An American IPA bursting with citrus aromas and flavors. You’ll find evidence of tangerine, grapefruit, orange and mango in the aroma from the multiple additions of a single hop variety, Citra. There is also a nice malt balance in this bitter, full bodied, delicious IPA that is a citrus lovers delight. Available year round.

ABV –  6.5%

95 IBUs

Hoppus Maximus American-Style Amber Ale

The complex character of American hops and amber colored caramel malts make this beer very crisp and refreshing that simply will not disappoint! Available year round.

Great American Beer Festival – Silver Medal in 2001, Bronze Medal in 2003 and 2005

World Beer Cup  – Silver Medal in 2004

ABV – 5.9%

43 IBUs

Irish Setter Red Irish Style Red Ale

A medium body with freshly ground caramel malt flavor and little to no bitterness. The combination of American caramel malt and the finest Kent Goldings hops from England add an inviting, nutty toasted malt aroma. Available January through March.

ABV – 5.9%

16 IBUs

Whippet Wheat Hefeweizen

Simply the most popular beer style in Bavaria, hefe(yeast) and weizen(wheat) is an unfiltered yeasty wheat beer. That’s the only simple thing about this great brew. This Hefeweizen combines 50% wheat malts with only the purest German yeasts. The trademark yeast-cloudiness produced holds all the aromas of clove, vanilla, and banana that make Whippet Wheat a truly unique and flavorful beer. Available May through September.

ABV – 5.2%

10 IBUs