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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 www.otbbicyclecafe.com. 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 www.bzbarandgrill.com

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



Dining

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

Emilia Romagna – Pittsburgh

Empire Palace – Pittsburgh

Everyday Noodles – Pittsburgh

Flavors of Fort Lauderdale – Florida

Four Wood Grill – Pittsburgh

Gabriella’s Restaurant – 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



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 www.99sportsfishing.com – Be sure and tell them your friends from Nightwire sent you!

 



Willow

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

willow restaurant

ReOPENS FOLLOWING EXTENSIVE renovations

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.

Location

634 Camp Horne Rd, Pittsburgh, PA 15237

Reservations: 412.847.1007

Willowpgh.com

Hours

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

412.904.2279

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, www.grapecreek.com. 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. www.fourpointwine.com The best way to search and plan a wine tour is to check out www.wineroad290.com 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 www.baronscreekside.com. 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! www.hangarhotel.com.

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. www.yourbrewery.com. 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. www.navajogrill.com & www.hilmywine.com 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. www.westendpizzacompany.com

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 www.jelly.com 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! www.chocolat-tx.us

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 www.youtube.com/watch?v=3dXR5Dk8YNw. 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 www.luckenbachtexas.com

For more information on Fredericksburg, Texas please visit www.fredericksburgtexas-online.com



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
412.904.2279
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.

History

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.
History

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
ABV:5.9
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.

Imports
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.

Beers

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.

Beers

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, www.RenardsCheese.com 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. http://www.wilsonsicecream.com/main.htm 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 www.thehardy.org.

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 www.fredandfuzzyz.com

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 www.doorcountycoffee.com.

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 www.1900windmillfarm.com

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 www.offthehwheelpottery.com

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 www.edgewoodorchard.com.

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 www.woodwalkgallery.com

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 www.handsonartstudio.com

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, www.aljohnsons.com 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 www.bistrofortytwo.com

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 www.rowleysbayresort.com

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 (www.folkloretheatre.com) 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 www.peninsulaplayers.com

To request an Official Visitor’s guide, visit www.DoorCounty.com

 



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.

Beers

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 www.stonepeppers.com

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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, victorybeer.com, 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 victorybeer.com. 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.

Beers

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 Rogue.com 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.

Beers

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



Troegs Brewing Company

Icon Written by admin on February 6, 2014 – 11:33 am

Troegs Brewing Company By: Rick Perrotta II

Simply put, Troegs Brewing Company has become a Pennsylvania institution as far as craft beer drinkers are concerned. The story of the the Trogner brothers, Chris and John – one brewing in Philly, one in Colorado, eventually deciding to bring their brewing skills to Harrisburg – is well known. Over the years, Troegs has gone from a few thousand barrels to 50,000, while receiving acclaim along each step of the way. A quick look at their Wikipedia page will reveal a list of awards too long to mention, including silver medals at the Great American Beer Festival for the Sunshine Pils, Nugget Nectar, HopBack, and Dead Reckoning, to go along with several gold’s in the bock category for the renowned Troegenator. However, the crown jewel may have been being named GABF’s 2012 Mid-Size Brewing Company and Brewer of the Year.

Nightwire magazine was fortunate enough to speak with Troegs Brewery Representative Mike Watters. During our interview Mike asked to be called “Mike” as opposed to Mr. Watters, a request we will honor here as well. According to Mike, 2014 looks to be another exciting one in the history of Troegs Brewing Company. The major news is that the brewery will begin distributing some of their higher profile beers in cans and will be releasing 3 brand new kinds of beers in what they are calling the “Hop Cycle” series.

First, the decision to distribute in cans. Mike says, “We’re always trying to continue our evolution as a brewery, and it’s another way to for us to reach customers.” It is likely apparent to most craft beer enthusiasts that cans are becoming more and more popular, the trend beginning with Oskar Blues in Colorado and reaching as far as North Country Brewing Company in Slippery Rock. However, there is more to it than that. There are certain popular beer drinking locations where glass bottles are either prohibited or discouraged, one being concerts, another being beaches. This move will help give beer drinkers options beyond the typical domestic beers.

The first of Troegs’ beers to get this treatment are already on the market. The aforementioned Troegenator Doublebock can be purchased in four packs of 16oz cans. The also popular Perpetual IPA will be available in 12 packs of 12oz cans. And in April, Troegs will be distributing the Sunshine Pils in 12 packs of 12oz cans.

As for the “Hop Cycle” series, it is “inspired by the cyclical nature of the four seasons.” Mike tells me the first will be launched in the spring. It is a Helles Bock named the Cultivator. Mike says spring is traditionally the time for bock beers – when Monks would fast during lent, they would cease eating but continue drinking this thick, hearty style of beer, which the monks would of course make themselves. The Sunshine Pils will represent summer. The next will be a new fall seasonal, a harvest red IPA called the Hop Knife. The third, The Blizzard of Hops, will be released in the winter.
Along with these announcements there is more news. The Nugget Nectar and the Mad Elf can will be shedding their seasonal tags, though they will still be brewed at their normal times, spring and winter respectively. I asked Mike about the unique taste of the Nugget Nectar and he credited it to “copious amounts of dry hopping.” There are other new products on the way. Troegs is releasing two separate brews, the La Grave, an effervescent bottle-conditioned triple, and the Jovial, a Chocolate Raspberry Imperial Stout, “corked and caged.” This means they will be corked like champagne in smaller 375ml bottles.

If you are one of the few yet to experience what Troeg’s has to offer, 2014 is a perfect time to get on board. You can also feel good knowing that you are supporting wonderful, down to Earth people as their local success story continues. For more information, please visit www.troegs.com.

Troegs is proudly distributed in Pittsburgh by Vecenie Distributing.

The New Troegs Beers:

Blizzard of Hops
As winter slowly creeps in Blizzard of Hops confirms a successful harvest and the end of the hop cycle. Enjoy the fruits of our labor with this revitalizing Winter White IPA. (Available winter 2014)

Cultivator, 6.9% abv
Emerging from springtime’s fertile ground, Cultivator celebrates the start of hop growing season. This spring bock delivers hints of toasted grains, fresh baked bread and delicate floral hops. Hop fans can rejoice knowing sunlight sustains the soil, allowing precious hop cones to grow and flourish. ( Available Now)

Hop Knife
With Hop Knife, we recognize the meticulous, time-honored tradition of hand-harvesting hops at the peak of maturity. This harvest ale utilizes our hopback vessel and dry-hopping to release a bounty of intense hop flavor across the palate. (Available Fall 2014)
Jovial, 10.0% abv
Jovial is an enticing Imperial Stout fermented with Belgian yeast and brewed with dark chocolate and tart raspberry. Brimming with optimism, Jovial reveals its enduring charm and infinite merriment with each passing sip. This beer is highly carbonated: Hold chalice and pour into center of the glass to release the yeast’s complex character. (Available TBA)

La Grave, 8.0% abv
LaGrave (pronounced \le-gräv\), the first of our corked and caged bottle releases, is inspired by nature’s untamed beauty. Bottle conditioned and highly carbonated, this Triple Golden Ale is steeped in the tradition of strong ales originally brewed in Belgium. The unique Belgian yeast, which is fermented at a slightly higher temperature than normal, forms the bedrock of LaGrave’s complex flavors. Strong and alluring, LaGrave boasts a sweet, fruity flavor with a well-rounded mouthfeel and semi-dry, lingering bitter finish. (Available Now)



Gluten Free Brewing

Icon Written by admin on February 6, 2014 – 11:30 am

Sprecher Brewing and Bard’s Brewing Gluten-Free Beers By: Chris Wise

It is estimated that over 3 million Americans, or 1 in every 105 Americans, suffer from an autoimmune disorder known as Celiac Disease. The disease wrecks havoc on the intestinal system, causing an inflammatory reaction whenever the patient ingests the gluten protein found in wheat or other comparable grains, such as barley or rye. Symptoms include pain during digestion, anemia and fatigue, and it is estimated that only 5% of those that suffer from Celiac Disease are correctly diagnosed. Thankfully, if the disorder is identified the patient can treat the disease by adhering to a strict gluten-free diet. While this solves the treating the disease, it creates an entirely new problem for the patient: many of the most popular beers in America are brewed with wheat, barley or rye, and therefore cannot be consumed by those suffering from Celiac Disease.

The idea of going through life without having another sip of beer is a terrifying thought for most of us, even if it means saving you from intense intestinal discomfort. Thankfully, as awareness of the disease and how many Americans are affected by it rises, so too do the number of companies catering to the specific needs of a gluten-free diet. Just as the food market has exploded in the past years with options like all organic, free-range raised animals, and gluten-free foods, the beer market has begun to keep pace with the national craze. Craft breweries take pride in showing off their all-natural ingredients, green brewing processes. Sprecher Brewing and Bard’s Brewing take great pride satisfying a smaller audience than the large national brewing corporations. It only makes sense then that craft beer companies have begun creating gluten-free beers in an attempt to reach the millions of American’s that suffer from Celiac’s Disease.

Sprecher Brewing Company was started in 1985 by Randall Sprecher in Milwaukee’s Walker’s Point area. Milwaukee has long been a hot bed of beer making, and Randall Sprecher knows this very well. Sprecher served as a brewing supervisor for Pabst Blue Ribbon brewing company in Milwaukee, one of America’s oldest and most storied breweries. Randall Sprecher decided to go out on his own and craft a unique line of beers, moving away from the simpler recipes used at national brands to the more specialized craft beers.

Sprecher Brewing enjoyed success from the start by focusing on producing great tasting beers, and in 1994 were forced to relocate to a larger facility to handle the increased demand for their great products. Sprecher explains why Americans responded so enthusiastically to their craft beers: “Like the biggest selling wines, many mass market beers are made to appeal to as broad of an audience as possible. This means they have to be produced at a highly competitive price and that they must offend no one. Much of the distinctive qualities of the traditional regional type brews is lost.” Comparing millions of barrels produced a year by the major brewery corporations to the thousands of barrels produced by craft breweries yearly, it is easy to see that craft breweries can keep their eye on the quality of the beer much better than their larger competitors. By moving away from mass produced products to artfully crafting fine products, Sprecher anticipated the boom craft breweries have experienced in the past years.

Sprecher has produced quality beers since their inception back in 1985. Their Black Bavarian brew has been a mainstay since 1985, an intensely dark lager with superb malt complexity. The Special Amber has been their best selling brew since 1985 with its creamy head, impressive hop bouquet and deep golden color. Coming out with Sprecher Light in 2005, Sprecher was beginning to branch out from their original brew line to meet more specialized demands. In 2006, by stubbornly adhering to traditional brewing methods and eschewing modern advances, Sprecher filled a gaping hole in the beer market.

Looking to come up with some recipes in honor of Milwaukee’s African World Festival, the company introduced Sprecher Shakparo, building off traditional African recipes. While the original recipes contained small amounts of gluten, Sprecher responded to outpouring of customers wondering if their Shakparo was gluten-free by updating the recipe to remove the gluten, and in effect taking the beer closer the original African recipe. Because barley and wheat are not grown in large quantities in sub-Saharan Africa, traditional Shakparos is brewed with sorghum and millet and are therefore able to be brewed gluten-free since neither sorghum nor millet contain gluten. So in 2006, Sprecher accidently created a delicious gluten-free brew, answering the prayers of beer aficionados suffering from Celiac Disease.

Sprecher Shakparo
Sprecher’s gluten-free Shakparo Ale is a West African Shakparo-style beer brewed from sorghum and millet. An unfiltered, light, crisp ale with a cider or fruit profile and a dry vinous aftertaste, it is best characterized as an easy-drinking or session beer perfect for summer gatherings. Coming in at 5.7% ABV and 9 IBUs, the Sprecher Shakparo has been a hit since its inception in 2006. This beer pairs nicely with lighter fare such as sandwiches, salads, chicken, fish, and spicier foods.
Sprecher Brewing is currently in the middle of a big brewery expansion adding new bottling lines and 9 new fermentation tanks. All because of their hard root beer and growing their brands nationally like their Shakparo beer.

Bard’s Brewing
While Sprecher Brewing may have gotten into the gluten-free market by accident, the story behind Bard’s Brewing is more deliberate if somewhat more improbable. While many stories behind craft breweries start along the lines of “Late one night I was having a beer with some friends and thought…” but for Kevin Seplowitz and Craig Belser this wasn’t really an option. Both suffered from Celiac’s Disease, but were suffering more from the fact this kept them from one of their favorite past times: enjoying a tasty brew.

Spotting a gap in the market, Kevin Seplowitz contacted Craig Belser when he found a gluten-free beer recipe of his online, and they set about to create a delicious brew that was still gluten-free. Founding Bard’s Tale Brewing in 2004, Seplowitz and Belser began looking at recipes using only the grain Sorghum, which does not contain gluten. The result was Bard’s Gold Sorghum Beer, the first gluten-free beer to use nothing but malted grains of sorghum, released in November 2004 and met with universal praise from the gluten-free community. While Bard’s Gold Sorghum Beer was the third gluten-free beer to be brewed in America, it was one of the first successful gluten-free recipes because the founder’s lived by one simple rule: if it doesn’t taste like a real beer, they wouldn’t sell it. So after perfecting the recipe and releasing it on an eager market, Bard’s Tale quickly hit their production capacity and had to expand, and has been enjoying continued success ever since. Bard’s was the first sorghum beer; they created and set the standard currently followed in the market today. Bard’s are the only brewer that malts the sorghum just like barley is malted in traditional beer for traditional beer flavor, aroma and color. Sorghum malt is not commercially available so they had to do it themselves. However, the flavor is worth the extra effort and expense. By focusing on producing a high quality gluten-free brew, Bard’s Tale has even been able to win over beer drinkers not suffering from Celiac’s Disease.
Bard’s Tale Gold Sorghum Beer

Crisp golden colors strike the eye first, followed by a light foam head on the top, which quickly dissipates, giving way to the beer aroma with a hint of honey. Fresh apple flavors and earthy tones mingle with the strong taste of honey, which is front and center in this 4.6% ABV, 20.5 IBUs brew. This solid and dependable Amber Lager will satisfy the approximately 2 million Americans of drinking age that suffer from Celiac’s disease, as well as those looking for a tasty but simple brew.
Sprecher and Bard’s Gluten-Free beers are proudly distributed locally by Galli Distributing.



Abita Brewing

Icon Written by admin on February 6, 2014 – 11:28 am

Abita Brewing By: Chris Wise
Nestled 30 miles north of New Orleans in the piney backwoods of Abita Springs, Abita Brewing has been churning out quality brews since it was founded in 1986 by Jim Patton and Rush Cumming, two home brewers who thought the world needed to experience their beers. In their first year, Abita Brewing produced 1,500 barrels of beer; demand for their brews grew and grew till their downtown Abita Springs brewery could no longer handle the demand. As the oldest brewery in the southeast, Abita didn’t want to turn its back on the community that helped them flourish. So, instead of abandoning their small brewery in downtown Abita Springs, they converted it to a 100-seat brewpub, and moved their main production site a few miles up the road to a site that could handle the increased load.
Abita has upped production from 1,500 barrels in 1986 to 151,000 barrels of beer and 9,000 barrels of root beer in 2013. With such explosive growth, you may be skeptical that Abita has been able to maintain the same level of quality output they had in 1986. However, Abita has remained focused on the quality of the product they put out, using only the finest British and North American malted barley, German and American yeast strains, Pacific Northwest hops and the pure artesian water of Abita Springs. Abita’s main brewery is perfectly located on top of a aquifer, which provides them with clean, refreshing water to use in their brew making process.
Continually looking to the future, Abita announced in 2013 they are expanding their production again. Abita’s current brewery limits them to producing 210,000 barrels a year, a number they are fast approaching, and the plans for the expansion would double their capacity. By adding 17,500 to their current production facility and a new cellar with a dozen 800-barrel storage tanks, Abita is ensuring they have enough room to grow in the future. As well as adding space, Abita plans to make their brewery 30 percent more energy efficient, something Abita Brewing has stressed for a number of years. Abita Brewing was the first brewery in North America to install an energy-efficient Merlin Brewhouse, which drastically reduces their carbon dioxide emissions. They also create their own energy by operating a waste-water treatment plant on-site.
But Abita doesn’t want to just tell you about their amazing brewery and energy saving techniques, they want you to visit so they can show you in person. Abita is so grateful for the support they’ve received from their customers over the years, they encourage all their customers to stop by, see the brewing process and sample a few of their brews, including ones still in the experimental stage. Abita estimates over 25,000 visitors passed through their doors last year alone, and hope that number only increases in the future.
Accommodating larger crowds is one of the major advantages of the expansion project. Abita currently offers guided tours Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at 2 pm, and Saturday at 11 am, noon, 1 pm and 2 pm. Customers are also invited to visit the Tasting Room, open Tuesday to Friday from 10 am until 4 pm and on Saturdays from 10 am until 3 pm. The Tasting Room is where all tours of the Abita Brewery begin and end where you can take a seat at the 24-foot, polished mahogany bar and enjoy samples of almost every Abita Beer, view Abita-inspired art and shop for Abita Beer merchandise. After the expansion is completed, Abita will have room for more private parties, and hopes to allow unguided tours through the brewery, in addition to the guided tours.
Abita’s main goal is to get their delicious, high quality brews to as many customers as they can by any means necessary, whether that’s expanding output to reach new markets or inviting more people to visit them in New Orleans. To taste what Abita is all about for yourself, try one of their tasty mainstays, eclectic seasonals, rotating harvest brews or grab a party pack to get a sampling of their offerings. For more information on Abita Brewery Company please visit www.abita.com
Varieties
Amber
Amber is a Munich style lager brewed with crystal malt and Perle hops. It has a smooth, malty, slightly caramel flavor and a rich amber color. Abita Amber was the first beer offered by the brewery and continues to be their leading seller. Amber is Abita’s most versatile beer for pairing with food because of its smooth, malty flavor; try it with smoked sausages, Louisiana boudin, and Cajun food. You might also enjoy it paired with a spicy gumbo or tomato-based pasta sauce.
4.5% ABV 17 IBU

Purple Haze
Purple Haze is a lager brewed with real raspberries added after filtration. It is brewed with pilsner and wheat malts and Vanguard hops. The berries add a fruity aroma, tartly sweet taste and a subtle purple color and haze…you may see fruit pulp in the beer. This beer is best served with salads or light fruit desserts, such as soufflés or chiffon cakes. Many people enjoy it with chocolate desserts, or it can be enjoyed alone at the end of your meal as a desert.
4.2% ABV 13 IBU

Jockamo IPA
Jockamo IPA is an American IPA brewed with pale, red, and caramel malts. This copper-colored ale is liberally hopped and dry hopped with Willamette and Columbus hops. The flavor is bold like the “Mardi Gras Indians” who march through New Orleans in suits of feathers and beads. Jockamo has a flavor that entices and excites the palate. The intense hop character adds more spice to the meal and makes it a perfect choice to team up with many spicy dishes. Jockamo goes well with wild game, grilled meats and Thai or Mexican cuisine.
6.5% ABV 52 IBU

Turbodog
Turbodog is a dark brown ale brewed with pale, caramel, and chocolate malts and Willamette hops. This combination gives Turbodog its rich body and color and a sweet chocolate, toffee-like flavor. Turbodog began as a specialty ale, but has gained a huge, loyal following and has become one of Abita’s flagship brews. This ale pairs well with most meats and is great served with hamburgers or sausages. It is a good match with smoked fish and can even stand up to wild-game dishes. Turbodog is also great for marinating and braising meats and cooking such things as cabbage and greens.
5.6% ABV 28 IBU

Mardi Gras Bock
Mardi Gras Bock (January – March) is the first of Abita’s seasonal brews. Abita Bock is brewed with pale, pilsner and caramel malts and German Perle hops. Mardi Gras bock is similar to German maibocks with its rich malt flavor and full body, making it a perfect choice during Carnival season in New Orleans. Gruyére, Emmental and Swiss are nice cheese choices with Bock beers, and Mardi Gras Bock goes great with roasted beef or pork. Try it with Mexican food, too.
6.5% ABV 25 IBU

Spring IPA
Spring IPA (March-May) is a West Coast-style IPA with an up-front intense hop flavor and aroma. Amarillo and Centennial hops give the brew a rich and resinous flavor of citrus and spice. This bright pale ale has a malt sweetness that will give way to a pleasant bitterness. It pairs well with Mexican or spicy Szechwan Chinese food. Spring IPA is a nice accompaniment for cheeses with strong flavors, like sharp cheddar or goat cheese.
6.25% ABV 65 IBU

Pecan Harvest Ale
Abita Pecan Harvest Ale is brewed with pale, Munich, biscuit and caramel malts and Willamette hops. Real Louisiana roasted pecans are added in the brewhouse and give the ale a subtle nutty flavor and aroma. This ale is excellent accompanied with both red meat, seafood, Gouda cheese, and, no surprise here, it’s also great with nuts!
5.1% ABV 20 IBU

Abita Craft Beers are proudly distributed locally by Frank Fuhrer Wholesale.



New Planet Brewery

Icon Written by admin on January 1, 2014 – 6:19 pm

New Planet Brewery                                                                                        by Ricky Perrotta

A new year is often seen as a time for new beginnings and fresh perspectives. For many, with every January 1st comes the opportunity to shrug off the travails of the old year and re-imagine oneself. The possibilities, as well as the resolutions, are endless…but many of them deal solely with health concerns. “I’m going to lose weight,” is a common refrain. “I’m going to start exercising!” is another. Some will start running, some will give up potato chips, some will even buy vegetarian or vegan cookbooks. Suddenly “new beginnings” and “fresh perspectives” do not sound so alluring.

Well, New Planet Beer Company, a brewery based in Boulder, Colorado might offer the opportunity to put the excitement back in your New Year’s resolutions with their wonderful line of 100% gluten-free craft beers. By now, it is safe to assume that everyone has heard about the gluten-free movement. Gluten is a protein found in wheat and other grains such as barley, rye, and oats. Astute readers (and not-so-astute readers) will quickly come to the depressing conclusion that without wheat, barley, rye, and oats there is precious little chance of creating traditional malts. Without malts, we’re living in a world without our favorite beverage.

Pedro Gonzalez, founder of New Planet Beer Company, has an alternative even if it was one that was thrust upon him. Mr. Gonzalez, like one out of 133 people in America, suffers from celiac disease, a condition which causes its carriers to react negatively to gluten. He was told he would never drink craft beer again. Understandably, this diagnosis was untenable to the man. Rather than live a life without beer, Mr. Gonzalez decided to do something about it – he began brewing beer out of brown rice and sorghum. On its own, brown rice does not produce enough of the enzymes needed to degrade starches into fermentable sugars. So sorghum, a millet-like grain popular in Africa and Asia as a source of protein, is used to bring the enzyme levels up to par and create the malt. The result is a line of beers that only three years ago could only be found in Colorado, but is now distributed in an impressive 46 states, including Pennsylvania. It can be found in Pittsburgh thanks to Vecenie Distributing Company.

I was fortunate enough to speak with New Planet’s marketing manager, the very cordial Peter Archer. I feel like I’m mentioning this about the people at every brewery for which I write an article, but one would never know that Mr. Archer works for such a successful brewery. He is energetic and amiable, once again proving the tried and true theory that beer lovers are good people. Mr. Archer compared the difference between “normal” beers and gluten-free beers to the difference between “red wine and white wine.” He says, “The process by which they are made is exactly the same. It’s just the ingredients that are different, leading to different flavors.” Because gluten-free beers are not made from the so-called traditional ingredients, they will not have what people think of as the distinctive craft beer taste. However, they are just as capable of having complex, nuanced flavors and textures. The idea of “traditional” ingredients and “non-traditional” ingredients may very well be the next thing to go as the craft beer movement carries on. After all, it was not long ago that rye beers were relatively rare.

New Planet is truly, as Mr. Archer says, “Pioneering” 100% gluten-free beers. They are the first American brewery to make a gluten-free Belgian ale, a gluten-free pale ale, a gluten-free raspberry ale, a gluten-free brown ale, and a gluten-free amber ale. Before New Planet, the only gluten-free beers were lagers. New Planet is also “in full compliance with Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TBB) Ruling 2012-2 and can therefore be labeled and advertised as gluten-free.” As their website, newplanetbeer.com, tells us, “The TTB believes that the qualifying statement is necessary to avoid misleading consumers about the gluten content of (certain) products because of the serious health consequences associated with the consumption of gluten by individuals with celiac disease.”

2013 is winding down, but 2014 will be here soon and with it, the opportunity for new beginnings and fresh perspectives. If you suffer from celiac disease, want to try a gluten-free lifestyle, or just want to try a new and exciting craft beer, try New Planet. It has already become a staple of the ever-growing beer market, not just in Pittsburgh, but all across America.

New Planet Beers:

Pale Ale – New Planet Beer’s Pale Ale – Formerly Off Grid Pale Ale – is reminiscent of a classic American Pale Ale, offering bold hop character and rich caramel and grapefruit notes with a clean yet distinctly hoppy finish. The making of this Pale Ale involves 3 types of hops – Centennial, Cascade, and Sterling. The hop bitterness contrasts with spicy, heat-charred, smoky, or aromatic flavors, such as blue cheese, barbeque, seafood, and Asian spiced dishes. 6.4% ABV.

Amber Ale – A truly drinkable amber ale with a balanced malt profile, lightly toasted caramel notes and subtle citrus hints on the finish. Made with Simcoe and Sterling hops. Pair with BBQ pork and brisket, milder and fuller flavor cheese like Gouda, or veggie options such as eggplant or Portobello mushrooms.

Blonde Ale – Light and refreshing,  Blonde Ale – Formerly known as Tread Lightly Ale – offers bright notes of honey and a subtle floral aroma with a crisp clean finish. Made with Cascade hops. New Planet also uses orange peels in the brewing of this beer, adding a refreshing citrus flavor. Lighter foods pair best with the Blonde Ale given it’s more straight forward taste profile. Try Monterey Jack cheese or similar light, nutty cheese, grilled chicken, salmon, or bratwurst, or fish or shrimp tacos. 6.0%

Raspberry Ale – Formerly known as 3R Raspberry Ale, this delightfully drinkable ale offers a crisp, yet complex, balance of subtle fruit flavor and aroma, with a zesty, citrusy finish. Brewed with natural raspberry puree and orange peel. The Raspberry Ale is also made with Cascade hops. Best paired with foods driven by herbs and spices, especially fruit elements. Try light, white meats with a fruit glaze, salads with fruit based dressings, deserts such as mascarpone cheese, chiffon cakes, and soufflés, or dark chocolate. 5.0% ABV.

Belgian Ale – An ale created with a distinctly Belgian character. Bright, crisp and refreshing with subtle spice and honey notes. Due to the spice, citrus, and honey notes, the Belgian Ale pairs beautifully with a range of dishes including light seafood’s, sharp cheeses, and spring green salads with grilled salmon or chicken and a citrus based vinaigrette. 6.8% ABV.

Brown Ale – This award-winning ale is rich in character and depth, highlighted by coffee and chocolate flavors, with subtle cinnamon and vanilla notes on the finish brewed with Centennial and Sterling hops. The smooth malt texture makes for great pairings with earthier-style cheeses, hearty sausages and full-flavored grilled meats, and deserts such as black-forest cake, raspberry tart, and fudge. 6.0% ABV.

For more information about New Plant Brewery visit www.newplanetbeer.com

 



Bitburger Brewery Group

Icon Written by admin on January 1, 2014 – 6:17 pm

Bitburger Brewery Group                                                               by:  Chris Wise

Coming up on their bicentennial in a mere four years, the Bitburger Brewery has become one of the most important private brewery in Germany since it was founded in 1817. Seven generations of family ownership allowed Bitburger Brewery to be named number one draft beer in Germany in 1992, a position it holds to this day. The Bitburger Brewery pumps out around 100 million gallons of beer each year, and the brewery’s success has allowed the Bitburger Brewery Group to acquire and operate a number of the most historic breweries in Germany. From humble beginnings as a small rural brewery in Bitburg, Germany, to becoming one of the most important brewery groups in the world.

Founded in 1817 by Johann Peter Wallenborn in 1817, Bitburger Brewery started as a small, rural brewery in the German town of Bitburg. Bitburger Brewery would make a name for themselves in 1883 by brewing the first Pilsner outside the Bohemian town of Pilsen. The importance of this point was made further in 1913 when, after years of legal battles with a rival Czeck brewery, the supreme court of the German Reich in Leipzig to use the designation “Simonbräu Deutsch-Pilsener,” or roughly original German-pilsner. After developing the groundbreaking pils, Bitburger Brewery was able to reach new markets and expand their operation.

In 1886, Bitburger Brewery shipped its first case of Bitburger Pils outside of Germany, and seven years later, in 1893, Bitburger sent 1,000 liters of their pilsner to Chicago’s World Exhibition. Bitburger Premium Pils is now enjoyed in over 70 countries worldwide, and has become so popular for their continued history of innovation and excellence in brewing.

Striving for excellence in taste and purity, in 1909 Bitburger dug their first deep well, digging down over 100 meters to get the best tasting water. Bitburger continues the practice to this day, and currently the brewery is on its 8th well. In 1910, Bitburger began to transport their “precious cargo” using refrigerated railway cars to ensure the quality of the beer is maintained, even over long distances. Bitburger Brewery wasn’t immune to setbacks along their long history, though they always were able to overcome the hard times.

As WWI ravaged the continent of Europe, the town of Bitburg was not exempt from the fury of Allied bombardments. But it wasn’t until 1944 that Bitburger Brewery had to temporarily shutdown as the entire town, along with the brewery and all their wooden barrels of beer, were destroyed. However, Bitburger Brewery was able to begin producing beer again, and at a rate of around 1.5 million gallons a year, in 1949, a remarkably short rebuilding time. After getting back to making beer, Bitburger Brewery began to position itself as one of the top breweries in post-war Germany.

Capitalizing on emerging media outlets has always been a strong suit of Bitburger Brewery, ever since their first print ad in 1909. In 1929, they introduced the “Connoisseur,” who still guarantees the highest quality product to this day. Their slogan, one of the best known in the industry, was rolled out in 1951: “Bitte ein Bit!”, or simply “Please, a Bit!” This catchphrase was then broadcast around the globe in 1955 as Bitburger launched their first television and movie campaign.  Bitburger knew the best way to make their draught beer stand out was to give it a unique glass, the “Bitburger Cup.” A nicely-proportioned goblet on a hexagonal stem, the “Bitburger Cup”  emphasizes the character and uniqueness of Bitburger Premium Pils to this day.

Bitburger Brewery’s success has been built on the strength of their original Bitburger Premium Pils. Bright, fresh golden colors and a rich frothy head are what you first notice about this elegant Pilsner. The Bitburger well-water gives the beer a very clean, hoppy taste, with nutty flavors accompanying. The bitterness of the hops are balanced well with the mellow sweetness of the body of the beer. Bitburger Premium Pils comes in at 4.8% ABV and is available in 12 oz Bottles, 12 oz and 16 oz cans, 5 liter mini-kegs, 15, 30 and 50 liter kegs. A non-alcoholic variety, Bitburger Drive, is also available in 12 oz bottles.

Bitburger’s success with Bitburger Premium Pils has allowed them to branch out over the years, and today Bitburger Brewery Group produces 750 million liters of beer a year and employs around 1,700 people. They have been able to do this by purchasing a number of successful breweries in Germany, including König Pilsner, Wernesgrüner, Licher, Benediktiner, and Köstritzer.

The Köstritzer Brewery, founded in 1543, is one of the oldest breweries in all of Germany. Since that time, Köstritzer has become the most popular black lager beer in Germany today, and has made its way into over 50 different countries. Over the years, Köstritzer has won some important supporters, including Otto von Bismarck, who in a 1892 letter, wrote “Köstritzer holds a distinguished rank within the aristocracy of beers.” In 1991, Bitburger acquired Köstritzer Schwarzbierbrauerei, helping establish Bitburger as one of the leading brewery groups. Bitburger helped Köstritzer become the leading seller in the black lager beer market in Germany just in time for its 450-year anniversary in 1993, a position it enjoys to this day.

Köstritzer Black Lager has a beautiful mahogany color, and a lasting, cream-colored, finely pored head. Its expressive fragrance evokes a range of intense spicy aromas, including sage, roasted chestnuts, dark honey, bitter chocolate and licorice. With delicate bitter tones and malty sweetness, it finishes slowly on the palate. A complex beer that tastes lean and refreshing with its abundance of flavors, Köstritzer black lager is highly drinkable and highly enjoyable. Köstritzer black lager is available in 12 oz bottles, 16 oz cans, 5 liter mini-kegs, and 30 and 50 liter kegs and packs 4.8% ABV.

It might be hard to imagine a brewery could have a history that rivals both the Bitburger and Köstritzer breweries, but the history behind the Benediktiner Weissbier is perhaps more impressive. The story begins in 1330 when the Ettal Abbey was founded by Emporer Louis IV, known as the Bavarian. Through the 1400s and 1500s, the monastery had its own brewery in nearby village of Oberammergau in Upper Bavaria. The onsite brewery at the Ettal Abbey was built in 1609, and alongside agriculture, is the oldest enterprise run by the Benedictine abbey at Ettal. For over 400 years, the Ettal Abbey has continued to be the sole producer of Benediktiner Weissbier for Germany and Austria. For export markets, the beer is produced at the Licher Privatbrauerei under close supervision of the monastery.

The Ettal Benedictine monks, of the Benedictine order originally brought the craftsmanship of beer brewing to Germany, maintain the quality of Benediktiner Weissbier to this day.  Benediktiner Weissbier has a rich amber color with orange highlights throughout, and sparkles despite the cloudiness of the yeast. Its rich, white head is characterized by a good density and fine texture. Hints of honey, fruit and caramel come through, including bananas and raisins. A full body, with a harmonious balance of sweet and a discrete bitterness in the background, creates a smooth, creamy mouthfeel.  Benediktiner Weissbier comes in at 5.4% ABV, and is available in 12 oz bottles, 5 liter mini-keg and 15, 30 and 50 liter kegs.

Bitburger Brewery Group has a long, storied history, including some of the oldest breweries  and best-selling beers in Germany. Bitburger has maintained excellence for seven generations by constantly keeping an eye on innovation and marketing, trying to stay ahead of competitors. Offering a sampling of beers from around Germany, Bitburger Brwery Group certainly has something to offer any beer drinker. So next time you’re trying sort through all the emerging breweries clamoring for your attention, remember the long history of excellence at Bitburger Brewery.

Bitburger beers are proudly distributed locally by Galli Distributing.



Breckenridge Brewing

Icon Written by admin on January 1, 2014 – 6:16 pm

Breckenridge Brewing                                                                      by: Chris Wise

Richard Squire spent his days in the 1980’s skiing the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and Utah, and nights making delicious home brews for himself and friends in his basement. Squire and staff turned his hobby in the basement into the 41st largest craft brewery in America, Breckenridge Brewery. Through the years since its humble beginnings to its present day success, Breckenridge Brewery has consistently produced delicious, interesting brews while keeping an eye on their role in their community and environment.

After encouragement from friends and family, Squire opened the doors to Breckenridge Brewery in February of 1990. Located on the historic Main Street in Breckenridge, Colorado, the brewery enjoyed success immediately, as the locals and visitors responded enthusiastically to the chance to taste Squire’s brews, paired with delicious, homemade food. Success came so quickly to Breckenridge Brewery that in 1992 they were forced to expand their operations, and opened another location in Denver.

Success again followed Breckenridge Brewery to their new location in Denver, across the street from where the Colorado Rockies baseball field would be built in 1995. The new location allowed the brewery to reach a much larger market than before, and the brewery grew to meet the demand. Breckenridge Brewery became the first brewery in Colorado to package craft beer in 6-packs and 12-packs. In 1996, Breckenridge Brewery moved its brewery operations once again to their current location at 471 Kalamath Street in Denver, which allows them to produce 66,000 barrels of craft brews every year, compared with their 1,500 barrel limit at their original location.

But the Brewery hasn’t turned its back on the original brewpub that launched their success story; a small Breckenridge Brewery brewpub is operating at the original location, a favorite of Breckenridge Brewing fanatics. In total, Breckenridge Brewery operates five brewpubs and ale houses in Colorado, and invites everyone to come down to sample to some of their amazing brews. Free tours of their Denver production facility are given every Saturday at their 417 Kalamath Street location. Breckenridge Brewery invites its customers to “come in, hear the whole story, enjoy a free pint on us, and see where all of that beer gets brewed, bottled, and sent to find its way into the hands (and bellies) of lovely folks like yourself.”

For some companies, such rapid growth could lead them to lose sight of their original goal, but Breckenridge Brewery stresses after all these years “our mission remains the same: create balanced, approachable and interesting hand-crafted beers.” In addition to Richard Squire, Edward Cerkovnik and J. Todd Usry have been instrumental in shaping the direction of Breckenridge Brewery since the start in the early 90’s, and are still with the company today. Breckenridge Brewery has grown rapidly in the last few years, coming in at 20% growth three years in a row including 30% growth in 2012, they are being forced to relocate again. This time, J. Todd Usry, Brewery Director, and his team have gone all out in designing their new brewery in hopes of greatly increasing the ceiling on their production.

Moving just south of Denver along the South Platt River to Littleton, Colorado, Breckenridge Brewery plans to build a 12-acre world-class brewery. Located along the Platte River Trail, the brewery is easily located by bikers and hikers alike. Breckenridge Brewery has tried to make the brewery as eco-friendly as possible, including: an energy recovery system to reduce emissions, condense steam, and store energy to heat water for the brewing process. They’ll installed solar tubes for natural lighting in the brewery and warehouse, with many windows for additional natural lighting; and systems to recycle/reclaim as much water as possible throughout the brewery. In addition to being friendly to the environment, the brewery will help the community, by added new jobs bringing in approximately 60-75 new jobs to the town. The new facility will instantly up their production capacity to 125,000 barrels annually from 66,000 currently, and eventually 300,000 barrels annually.

Cementing their presence in Colorado was important to Breckenridge Brewing in planning their new brewery. “Our brewery was born and raised in Colorado,” explains Todd Usry, Brewmaster and Brewery Director. “We have our Colorado mountain home [in Breckenridge], and soon, a Colorado country spread along the river. Our Denver brewing operations opened in 1992, so it’s tough to leave Denver, but we’ll still have our two thriving restaurants there.” Country spread is right: the 12-acre complex will have a hops field, beer garden, concert venue, tasting farmhouse with indoor and outdoor seating and general store where you can buy growlers-to-go. Breckenridge Brewery wants their customers to feel welcome to come take a tour and enjoy their day checking out the operation.

Breckenridge Brewery recognizes the enormous amount of success they have been rewarded with over the years, and have a great deal of love and respect for their Colorado community. They give to charitable organizations such as the Conscious Alliance, which has provided 1.6 million meals across the U.S. and assists at-risk youths. They also chipped in during the Fall to help victims of the floods in Colorado.

Community is important to Breckenridge Brewery, not just their Colorado community, but the community united by the love of their brews, and they love to hear back from their customers. A whole section of their website, www.breckbrew.com, is dedicated to their customer community, with pages for customers to post stories, photos, videos, recipes about their Breckenridge Brewing experiences. The following are a few of Breckenridge Brewery’s exciting recipes, but visit the website to get a full listing of their brews, which include a great rotation of mainline brews, seasonal releases, small batches, and barrel-aged brews, find a place to buy Breckenridge Brewing beer, or post a story after you sample one of their beers for yourself. Cheers.

Breckenridge Beers

Avalanche Ale

Richard Squire’s original Amber Ale, first brewed in 1988, is the cornerstone of Breckenridge Brewery’s lineup. Blending pale and caramel malts, with a touch of bittering hops, Squire created a refreshing-but-flavorful, anytime beer that he has built his company around. Aromas of pale grains, a semi-sweet middle and a clean-as-Colorado-snow finish make this their best-selling beer. Head over to the Breck Brew website to find a Spiced Avalanche Jelly recipe, or enjoy this classic on its own.

ABV: 4.4%

Lucky U IPA

An American India Pale Ale, the Lucky U IPA is a well-balanced, hoppy ale that goes down clean and refreshing. This IPA has a nice mixture of seven hops: Amarillo, Magnum, Perle, Cascade, Apollo, Fuggle, and Goldings hops. This mixture of hops produces a golden color, with a strong hop bitterness and an underlying malt character. True to IPA heritage, yet still highly drinkable. Lucky U.

ABV: 6.2%

Oatmeal Stout

This bold, smooth-bodied concoction oozes dark-roasted coffee aromas and flavors of espresso and semi-sweet chocolate. They round out these heady pleasures with a dose of flaked oatmeal for a creamy body and a semi-dry finish. Dark in character, not in spirit. Check out the website for a tasty Oatmeal Stout Beer-B-Q Sauce recipe.

ABV: 4.95%

Nitro Vanilla Porter

An update on their wildly popular mainstay Vanilla Porter, Breckenridge Brewery has updated this remarkably complex ale with Nitrogen pressurizing to produce a rich, creamy beer with a tight head unachievable with kegs using carbon dioxide pressure system. The nitrogen pressure system allows the vanilla, caramel, coffee and chocolate flavors to reach their maximum complexity, to create a beer with unmatched creamy finish.

ABV: 4.7%

471 Small Batch

471 is a small batch, limited edition ale that was created by Breckenridge Brewery’s Brewmaster to separate the weak from the strong. An aggressively strong double IPA, 417 combines Pale, Munich, Caramel-30, Carapils and Torrified Wheat malts, with Chinook, Centennial, Simcoe and Fuggles hops. It has a big sweet mouthfeel, followed by more hoppiness than you’ve ever had at one time.

ABV: 9.2%

Ophelia Wheat Ale

A hoppy, wheat ale which balances soft, tropical fruit flavors with aggressive hoppiness, Ophelia is set to replace Pandora’s Bock as Breckenridge Brewery’s spring selection. The new recipe will both freshen up the Brewery’s lineup and allow the Brewery more time to focus on expanding, as Ophelia takes a third of the time to make as Pandora’s Bock. But don’t worry, Pandora’s Bock will still be available as a small batch release; in the meantime, try this complex yet well-balanced session ale.

ABV: 5.3%

Breckenridge Beers are proudly distributed locally by Frank Fuhrer Wholesale.



The Beer Market

Icon Written by admin on November 30, 2013 – 9:40 pm

The Beer Market

By: Chris Wise

Ever feel disappointed with a bar’s beer selection—even those that proclaim themselves beer houses? Ever find yourself needing a place to grab a quick brew with friends before a Steelers or Pirates game? Ever want to see live music in an intimate yet spacious venue with nearly limitless food offerings with great beer to match?

A bar that combines all these qualities sounds too good to be true, but The Beer Market offers all this, and so much more. In 2011, The Beer Market was launched in the Greater Chicago by a group of restaurateurs and local businessmen, and was met with immediate success. So much success in fact, that there are now three Chicago locations, two in Cleveland, and now one in Pittsburgh, opened in May of 2013. The Beer Market has been so successful because unlike some other beer houses with a limited selection, The Beer Market offers over 550 choices of beer. With around 50 continually rotating taps on at all times, and 500 bottled offerings, The Beer Market’s beer list is truly impressive. In addition to rotating the taps constantly, The Beer Market has a seasonal fridge which serves guests beers based on the most current offerings. From Summer Shandy’s to Winter Stouts and Pumpkin beers in the fall, The Beer Market aims to always have the right beer to match the season outside. The Beer Market also has a wine list available for guests to satisfy more than simply beer drinkers. In addition to the nearly limitless choices of beer, guests also have a nearly limitless amount of food options.

The professionals at The Beer Market decided to focus on providing their customers great beer, and left the great food portion to other professionals. The Beer Market operates on a BYOF basis—allowing patrons to bring in food from other establishments, or order-in from local restaurants—which allows guests to bring in whatever food they chose to pair with their brews. Since The Beer Market in Pittsburgh is conveniently located at 110 Federal Street, directly across the street from PNC Park and well within walking distance from Heinz Field. Its location also boasts a number of food options right around the corner—including pizza, wings, sandwiches, and burgers.

Manager Tim Conti, who was instrumental in pushing for a location in Pittsburgh and a lifelong Steelers fan, explained that neighboring establishments have been very supportive. Giovanni’s Pizza, Jimmy John’s sandwich shop, BZ’s Bar and Grill, and Mullen’s Bar Grill have supplied Beer Market customers with a take-out menu offering, which has been very popular so far. And the choices don’t stop there; Atria’s Restaurant and Tavern at PNC is located across the street, The Warhol Café is around the block, and The Hyde Park Prime Steakhouse is two blocks away. This means whether you want a quick slice of pizza or sandwich to go with your beer you can or you want to sit down for a nice steak dinner, and then grab a few beers with friends afterwards, The Beer Market is perfect option for you.

. The Beer Market’s spacious location in the Boggs Building allows it to get jam packed with guests at a moment’s notice, yet not feel overcrowded. “During the summer, the bar would fill up before Pirates games with excited fans, with everyone impressed by our vast beer selection,” said Conti. Conti found that the most popular beers sold during Pirates and Steelers were locally brewed, including Helltown (Mt. Pleasant) and Full Pint (North Versailles), in addition to local classics such as Iron City. The Beer Market’s large open-seating area means it’s usually easy to find a place for you and all your friends to grab a seat. Also, if you know you want to have a small get together with friends at The Beer Market, they are more than willing to accommodate by blocking off sections for you and your party.

In addition to great beers and a food menu only limited to the imagination of the guest, The Beer Market offers live music most Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.  According to Conti, they try to bring in a variety of acts including cover bands (everything from classic rock to popular 90’s tunes), original bands, singer-songwriters and blues bands. The Beer Market Pittsburgh’s Facebook page is the best way to keep up to date with their entertainment offerings. (www.facebook.com/TheBeerMarketPGH)

Live entertainment was important to the owners of The Beer Market because two of the major investors have spent most of their lives in the entertainment industry. Steve Burton and Bradford Anderson, actors on the television show General Hospital and the musical act Port Chuck (www.PortChuck.com), found themselves so attracted to the concept of The Beer Market they signed on to invest in the Chicago openings. Burton says “the fact that you can go to a cool neighborhood place like The Beer Market and try different specialty beers with friends and listen to great live music…it was a ‘no-brainer’ for me to become a partner.” Anderson echoes this, saying “The Beer Market is a blend of my favorite things: live music, a variety of menu options, and, well, beer…I’m proud to be a part of The Beer Market.” Burton is going to make an appearance at the Pittsburgh location on Saturday December 7th at 11:00am as part of the Nashville Nights event, as part of an acoustic set featuring fellow ex-General Hospital star Scott Reeves and singer-songwriter Emily Reeves.

Guests may think that a bar offering over 550 beers could be intimidating, but The Beer Market is doing their best to educate their customers to find the best beer for them. The Beer Market’s servers are all very knowledgeable on their selections, and their menu’s provide detailed descriptions about all their beers. In addition to this, The Beer Market offers “Beer Flights” which provide guests a sampling of beers, typically based on region or seasonal variety. You can even do an online database search through their “Beer University” of their menu to come up with your own sampling next visit. And they offer a beer club loyalty program to track which beers you’ve tried and reward you for the points you accumulate by trying different varieties, including prizes from $20 gift card to a catered party for you and your friends at The Beer Market with a $250 complimentary tab. Conti says they also offer a 25% discount on Sundays for Pittsburgh residents, Cornhole and Trivia on Tuesday nights, and a 25%discount for Beer Club members on Wednesday. Conti also said The Beer Market group has plans to open a new location in Rochester, NY, next spring, and are beginning to consider opening a second location in Pittsburgh, this time further out of the city. The Beer Market is also going to offer franchising opportunities next year for eager investors, which you can read about on their website.

So if you need to stop in for a few quick beers with friends before a Steeler’s or Pirates’ game; if you need a relaxing place to listen to live music with a wide variety of food options; or if you need a place to go where you could (almost) never run out of new beers to try, remember The Beer Market is the place for you.

The Beer Market is located in the Boggs Building at 110 Federal Street, Pittsburgh, PA, 15222, and open Monday-Thursday from 3:00pm to Midnight, Friday from 3:00pm to 1:00am, Saturday from noon to 2:00am, Sunday from noon to midnight with extended hours on game days. Phone number: (412)-322-2337

www.The-Beer-Market.com



Lavery Brewing Company

Icon Written by admin on November 30, 2013 – 9:39 pm

Lavery Brewing Company                                                   By:   Rick Perrotta

In 2009 Jason and Nicole Lavery, founders of Lavery Brewing Company in Erie, Pennsylvania, were about to move to Ireland. Mrs. Lavery had applied for a job as an occupational therapist there and the couple, along with their three children, being of the adventurous sort, were ready to pack up move across the Atlantic. However, the process was taking longer than expected and finally Mrs. Lavery was told she would not be offered the position.

It turned out to be a serendipitous turn of events. “The same day she didn’t get the job was the day I won an award for my smoked porter,” recalls Mr. Lavery. “We figured if we could move our whole family to Ireland, we could start our own brewery.” Thus, Lavery Brewing Company was formed. In 2010, the Laverys received their brewing license and began brewing “innovative beer in small batches.”

It seems the family made the right choice. Lavery Brewing Company’s business has doubled, or come close, every year since its inauguration and they enjoy a reputation for creativity and attention to detail uncommon for a brewery so relatively young. Says Mr. Lavery,  “I didn’t want to be the kind of brewery that made only brown and pale ales..” We make those too, but they’re not our focus.” Looking at their current roster of beers, it is easy to see what he means. Their Belfast Black Ale is the aforementioned smoked porter that got them started, and it is made from four kinds of malts and their own version of a “noble” hop, Northern Brewer. In the summer they make an Imperial French Ale dedicated to Napolean, made from “wheat, rye, pale, and specialty malts,” which is “hopped and dry hopped to double IPA levels.” Their flagship beer is the Imperial Red Ale, a red, hoppy masterpiece with a robust ABV of 8.2%. And earlier in 2013, their Liopard Oir farmhouse ale, described on their website as a beer “for the ladies, the crazies and the connoisseurs,” received in a huge compliment in the form of a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival in Colorado.

“We felt like we had arrived,” Mr. Lavery says of the gold medal. “It’s pretty cool being told you have the best saison in the country, and there were only three gold medals won by all of Pennsylvania.”

Success has not gone to the Laverys’ heads. Mr. Lavery has a personable, friendly way of speaking, laughs in starts during our conversation, and is as happy to discuss putting his children to bed as he is the brewing process. His affinity for brewing and his excitement concerning the creative aspect of his endeavors comes through in his enthusiastic tone. He also likes to interact with his customers, and tells me about a contest Lavery Brewing is holding, which they have dubbed the Wort Transformation Challenge. People who wanted to participate were able to purchase a five gallon wort, which is the liquid extracted from the mashing process that also contains the sugar to be fermented into alcohol, and will transform it into their own home brew. Awards will be given in February for the categories of Continental, Belgian, American, and Experimental. Then they’re going to start all over again with another contest! The Wort Transformation Challenge is just one example of the great things going on in the world of American craft brewing right now as home brewers, young and old alike, have found an audience for their fresh ideas and intrepid spirit. We are all reaping the rewards.

The Laverys also opened their own pub in September of 2013, so if you’re in the Erie area make sure to stop by and see what all the excitement is about.

THE DEVIL BIRD

“Leave it to us to name a Christmas beer after the Devil,” says Mr. Lavery with a laugh.

The Devil Bird Holiday Ale is Lavery Brewing Company’s Seasonal winter beer. It is a handcrafted Imperial Porter, weighing in at a hefty 8.5% ABV, it is aged in Makers Mark barrels. Hopped with northern brewer hops and fermented with their house ale yeast. It’s thick, boozy, pitch-black testament to oak aging.  The wood compliments the beer and the bourbon adds extra layers of complexity. It is made from five kinds of malts and Columbus and Northern Brewer hops. This ale pours deep brown, almost black, with hints of red. The body is creamy and smooth and the subtle flavors compliment one another superbly. Expect plenty of dark fruit, coffee, bitter chocolate, vanilla and bourbon flavors with the aroma of chocolate and spices, almost reminiscent of eggnog and the taste is just as delicious!

The Devil Bird is named after the Irish tradition of carrying a dead wren through the streets on the day after Christmas (they celebrate a bit differently on that side of the pond) and comes with a great story. During Viking raids on Ireland in the 700s, Irish soldiers attempted to sneak up on their enemies early one wintery morning. Unfortunately, the soldiers were betrayed a wren who, munching on breadcrumbs while perched atop the head of a drum, woke the Vikings before the attack could take place. The Irish were slaughtered. The carrying of the dead wren through the streets is Ireland’s bitter form of retribution.

Mr. Lavery says the Devil Bird can be found at the Carson Street Deli and Giant Eagle six pack shops amongst other places, but Lavery Brewing makes a very limited production just one 310 gallon batch a year, bottled in 750ml bottles with a wax top. Their wax tops change with vintage their 2013 wax seal is red, so if you see this ale make sure to buy it up. It may be your only chance to bring the Devil home for Christmas.

Proudly distributed locally by Wilson McGinley Distributing.



Great Divide

Icon Written by admin on November 30, 2013 – 9:38 pm

Great Divide

By: Chris Wise

Brian Dunn grew up in a family with a true passion for food and drink, and has turned this passion into his life’s work. He may have taken a detour or two along the way, Dunn seems to have found his path in life when he founded Great Divide Brewing Company in 1994. Before that, Dunn spent five years travelling the world, going to developing countries and helping the inhabitants build farms. During those years, Dunn was able taste and experience beers around the world few have ever heard of, and knew he found his calling in life.

Upon returning stateside, Dunn began home brewing in his basement and working on completing graduate school. After graduating in 1993, Dunn began looking for business opportunities when Denver’s craft beer scene began taking shape. Dunn decided to found his own brewery in Denver’s Ballpark Neighborhood, and after receiving some financial help from friends and family, as well as a loan from the city of Denver, Great Divide Brewing Company was launched in 1994.

Dunn remained the only full-time employee for a while, having to brew, bottle and sell his beer, but the brewery grew quickly as demand grew for Dunn’s unique brew. Having to keep up with the increased demand, Dunn purchased an old dairy processing plant which would greatly increase Great Divide’s brewing capacity. This new brewery has allowed Great Divide to continue growing over the past decade; in 2012, Great Divide produced 32,000 barrels of brew, and in 2013 expects that number to hit 38,000. Within a few years, Great Divide expects they will reach their current facility’s limit of 60,000 barrels, and have begun discussing plans to expand their production.

Looking in the River North area of Denver, Great Divide is weighing the possibility of becoming the city’s largest brewery by dramatically increasing their production; if plans for a new brewery are realized, Great Divide will jump from a capacity of 60,000 barrels to 100,000 barrels immediately, as well as the capacity for up to 250,000 barrels eventually. Great Divide, which is currently home to around 45 full-time employees currently, could employee as many as 29 new employees right away. Plans for the project are still in the very early stages, but for a company with such deep roots in the Denver community, this would only strengthen those roots.

Till the plans for the new brewery are realized, Great Divide encourages patrons to stop by their current taproom to sample their latest brews or take a tour of the brewery, both offered seven days a week. Tours are free to the public, operating on a first-come first-served basis with no reservations (no open-toed shoes, no one under 12 years old and adult supervision for those under 21 as well). At the taproom patrons are encouraged to sample new brews direct from the source or grab a six-pack, growler or even keg of your favorite Great Divide brew. Great Divide encourages their customers to “Join us for a beer…in downtown Denver. We do it because we love it—come see how.” Not wanting their customers outside of the Denver area to feel left-out, Great Divide has tried to make their presence felt around the country by hosting numerous events around the country. (A calendar of events Great Divide hosts can be found under the events section of their webpage.)

Great Divide is so eager to spread the word about their beer not only because they are supremely confident and proud in their product, but also take pride in how they produce this outstanding product. According to Great Divide, they brew operate under one simple philosophy: “Let’s do our part for the environment and run our business responsibly.” Great Divide is so proud of their environmental practices, they list them online for everyone to see. Not only does Great Divide recycle 100% of the glass, cardboard and grain they use, they use less water than most other breweries in their process, and focus on producing draft beers because of the conservation of materials associated with draft kegs. It’s refreshing in a corporate world dominated by profit for a company to admit “Our bottom line isn’t our only guiding principle.”

Great Divide’s continued excellence in brewing has allowed the company to become of the most highly regarded in America. Their different beers have landed Great Divide an impressive 18 Great American Beer Festival medals and 5 World Beer Cup awards. As a company, Great Divide has been named both “Top Brewer in Colorado” and 12th on their list of “Best Brewers in the World” by Ratebeer.com, and 7th on BeerAdvocate’s list of “All-time Top Breweries on Planet Earth.” Great Divide has managed to become one of America’s top breweries because of the tasty brews they’re known for producing and the high standard they hold for themselves.

Known for producing big, bold brews that are long on flavor and complexity, Great Divide’s brews are what set the company apart from the tasteless, faceless varieties of beer that dominate the market. Great Divide has a wide variety of brews to accommodate the wide variety of tastes among beer drinkers. Their Hercules Double IPA comes in at a whopping 10% ABV and has been named #48 on BeerAdvocate’s “Top 100 Beers on Planet Earth,” while their new release Lasso IPA is a much more tame 5% ABV. Great Divide offers three different seasonal varieties, which are rotated four times a year, and are known for their seasonal line of Yeti Imperial Stouts. Offered as the year round variety, Great Divide’s Yeti Imperial Stout is the recipe that kicked off the incredibly popular Yeti line of brews.

For a company that has experienced great success in their relatively short run, Great Divide has not lost sight of their goal: producing great tasting, full-bodied beers while trying to repay and respect the community that has allowed them to flourish. Poised to expand their influence over the craft beer world even further over the next few years, Great Divide is a brewery to keep your eye on. Whether you prefer the big, bold tastes of their Yeti line or less intense but still-complex flavors of their other brews, Great Divide has something to offer all fans of great beer.

Yeti Imperial Stout

Coming in at 9.5% ABV, their flagship of the Yeti line is an onslaught of the senses. It starts with big, roasty malt flavor that gives way to rich caramel and toffee notes. This recipe gets its bold hop character from and enormous quantity of American hops. Coming in at a hefty 75 IBUs, this stout has won the silver medal at the Great American Beer Festival twice for best Imperial Stout, and rates a perfect 100 on RateBeer.com.

Espresso Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout (January-March)

A generous infusion of Denver’s own Pablo’s espresso adds yet another layer of complexity to this beer, combining with the vanilla oak character, intense roasty maltiness and bold hop profile to create a whole new breed of magical creature. It’s official: You can now have Yeti with breakfast. With a 9.5% ABV and another perfect 100 on RateBeer.com, this Yeti was named #43 on RateBeer.com’s list of “Top 50 Beers in the World” in 2013.

Chocolate Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout (April-June)

Another revered incarnation of Great Divide’s legendary Yeti line, they toned down the hops a bit to allow coco nibs to contribute some pleasing bitterness, while vanilla notes from the oak combine with the cocoa to create an aroma and flavor akin to a gourmet chocolate bar. A dash of cayenne keeps things lively, adding just bit of heat to the finish. This Yeti incarnation comes in at 9.5% ABV, and  was awarded the Gold Medal at the 2013 Great American Beer Festival in their Chocolate Beer competition and won their Yeti line its third perfect 100 rating on RateBeer.com in a row.

Oatmeal Yeti Imperial Stout (July-September)

This big, bold and dark variety of the Yeti line has all the familiar tastes of a delicious oatmeal cookie; The addition of rolled oats softens Yeti’s notoriously roasty backbone and the small amount of raisins added in the brew kettle create a unique dark fruit character. At 9.5% ABV, this Yeti is just as strong and just as admired as those that came before it, pulling in a 99 rating on RateBeer.com, one point shy of another perfect rating.

Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout (October-December)

The sophisticated sibling of the mainstay Yeti Imperial Stout, this Yeti may be from the same clan as the original, but has a personality all its own. Oak aging gives this 9.5% ABV brew a subtle vanilla character, rounding out the Yeti’s intense roastiness and huge hoppy nature. This tamer version of their wild Yeti line earned the #29 spot on BeerAdvocate’s “Top 100 Beers on Planet Earth” list and another perfect 100 rating on RateBeer.com.

Hibernation Ale (October-December)

Great Divide’s celebrated winter tradition since 1995, this robust, dry-hopped ale has a malty richness balanced with a complex hop profile and hearty, warming character. Coming in at 8.7% ABV, Hibernation Ale was awarded Gold Medal at the 1997 Great American Beer Festival in the Strong Ale/English-Style Old Ale category, Silver Medal in the same category at the 1998 World Beer Cup, and a 98 rating on RateBeer.com

Great Divide Beers are proudly distributed locally by Galli Beer Distributing Company.



Fat Head’s Brewery

Icon Written by admin on November 2, 2013 – 3:53 pm

Fat Head’s Brewery                                                                            by:  Chris Wise

When Glenn Benigni opened Fat Head’s Saloon in Pittsburgh’s South Side in 1992, he never could have expected what the future would hold.  Serving up great food and award-winning sandwiches in 2 locations, with plans to open in Portland, OR, in 2014.  While gaining national attention for their beer, Fat Head’s initially became famous for it’s food – from massive munchies to colossal sandwiches, including Headwiches billed as “roughly the size of your head.” These meals on a bun have fun names like The Chick ‘n Little, Beauty and the Beasty, and Bay of Pigs include an abundance of fresh ingredients served on fresh, locally sourced rolls. The South Side Slopes, a nod to Fat Head’s Pittsburgh hometown, features a mountainous helping of kielbasa, pierogies, cheese and grilled onions and was voted No.5 sandwich in the nation by Maxim Magazine.

Benigni, himself a craft beer enthusiast, teamed up with Master Brewer Matt Cole in 2009.  Together they headed down the highway, building their first Brewpub in Cleveland, OH.  Cole had a strong reputation within the industry, working with Baltimore Brewing, Great Lakes and Rocky River Brewing. Despite the pair’s encyclopedic knowledge of craft beer and extensive background within the brewing industry, few could have expected the immediate success that Fat Head’s first beers were met with.  In fact, a full-scale production brewery was opened in 2011 to keep up with the overwhelming demand.

Fat Head’s Head Hunter India Pale Ale is their flagship ale, repeatedly winning some of the most highly sought after accolades in the industry.  Head Hunter is an aggressively dry-hopped, West Coast-Style IPA with a huge hop display of pine, grapefruit, citrus and pineapple. Fat Head’s describes it as “a punch-you-in-the-mouth brew for those who truly love their hops!” Beer drinkers around the country agreed; three months after its release, Head Hunter won the gold medal at the West Coast IPA Festival and was voted into one of the “Top 25 of the World” by Draft Magazine.

And the awards never stopped coming. Head Hunter IPA has been repeatedly awarded at the highly acclaimed Great American Beer Festival (GABF), The World Beer Cup, The West Coast IPA Fest and was a 2x Grand Champion at the National IPA Challenge.  The 2013 GABF was Fat Head’s most prosperous yet, bringing home silver medals for Black Knight Schwarzbier and Wet-Hopped Trail Head Pale Ale; plus, in the 2nd largest category with 149 entries, Hop JuJu Imperial IPA won gold. And the list goes on with eight total GABF medals and two World Beer Cup awards in just four years of operation.

Fat Head’s latest venture, the opening of The Tap House within the Cleveland Production Brewery, opened this past October, for tastings and a behind-the-scenes peek of the crew in action.  Its easy to see that these guys love what they do and have fun doing it.  So much so that plans are in the works to open a brewpub in downtown Portland, OR, in mid-2014 to increase their presence on the West Coast. This is necessary considering the growth Fat Head’s has experienced since firing up their first brewery four years ago. In the first five and a half months of this year Fat Head’s has produced over 3,000 barrels, and expects that number to fall between 10,000 and 12,000 barrels by the end of the year.

You might think that with such immediate and overwhelming success, Fat Head’s would lose sight of what got them to this point: a great product, presented with a bit of style and flair but always living up to your high expectations. However, Fat Head’s has continued to work hard, maintain their high standard when coming up with new sandwich or beer recipes, and still have a sense of humor about themselves. One look at their menu proves this point. One can find a Hop Juju Imperial IPA across the page from a Pimp Sleigh Belgian-Style Christmas Ale, a Bean Me Up Imperial Coffee Stout below a Kohlminator German-Styled Smoked Bock, all of which go well with either an “Expert Pastrami” sandwich or the “Artery Clogger” (two fried eggs topped with ham, bacon, cheese, lettuce and tomato) The Fat Head logo is changed for each bottle to match the names: Head Hunter has a tribal warrior head, the Kohlminator is a half-human half-cyborg Fat Head, and the Pimp My Sleigh features an appropriately blinged-out Santa Fat Head. Fat Head’s offers a wide selection of beers, so here is just a few to get you started into their collection:

Head Hunter IPA

The flagship ale, Fat Head’s Head Hunter India Pale Ale is an intensely dry-hopped ale with a huge hop display of pine, grapefruit, citrus and pineapple. Head Hunter pulls together these flavors to create a unique IPA that has won numerous awards, including: Gold medals at the 2011 Denver International Beer Festival, the West Coast IPA Festival in 2009 and 2012, the National IPA Challenge in 2010 and 2012, and silver medals for American-style IPA at the 2010 Great American Beer Festival and the 2012 World Beer Cup. Offered year round and coming in at 7.5%ABV, Head Hunter is the recipe which established Fat Head’s as an up-and-coming brewery.

Sunshine Daydream Session IPA

Named after the Grateful Dead song “Sugar Magnolia,” Sunshine Daydream is a very drinkable Session IPA with big hop aromas, flavors of citrus, peach, and tropical fruit with a nice light malt backbone. According to Fat Head’s it is “ as refreshing as wading in a cold stream in the morning sunshine or a walk among the tall trees,” and we couldn’t agree more. At a mild 5% ABV compared to the Head Hunter, Sunshine Daydream is a more relaxed IPA offered year round.

Bumble Berry Honey Blueberry Ale

Fat Head’s isn’t messing around with this brew. They start with fresh harvested spring honey, which they “stole” from “some very angry bees” (they claim to have the welts to prove it) and infuse it with fresh blueberries. The result is a light, tasty, refreshing ale with a blueberry aroma, crackery malt flavors, a hint of sweetness and a refreshing blueberry finish. Boasting a 5.3%ABV, Bumble Berry was voted “Most Refreshing Beer in America” by Brewing News in 2010. Bumble Berry is the only non-IPA Fat Head’s offers year round, and another great way to “Get yo’ buzz on!”

Spooky Tooth Imperial Pumpkin Ale

The ingredient list for this brew reads like the ingredient list for the perfect Autumn treat:  Roasted pumpkin, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and allspice. Spooky Tooth offers a rich amber color, an aroma of sweet pumpkin pie and a “chewy mouthfeel you can sink your teeth into.” With a whopping 9% ABV, this ale is like a highly-intoxicating pumpkin pie in liquid form…Fat Head’s simply stopped short of putting whipped cream on top!

Holly Jolly Christmas Ale

The explanation behind this Christmas Ale sounds like the start to a good holiday tale: “Once upon a frozen evening way up north, a sweet local honey named Holly inspired our Jolly Fat Man (as only Holly can) to create this festive spiced holiday ale. We think you will enjoy his holiday creation with it’s aromas and flavors of Christmas day. Sweet malt, ginger, honey and cinnamon spice.” Sounds like Christmas to me. At 7.5%ABV, the Holly Jolly is the perfect libation to get you through a hectic holiday season.

Pimp My Sleigh Belgian-Style Christmas Ale

For the times when the Holly Jolly isn’t providing the relief you seek, reach for a Pimp My Sleigh to ease your Christmas season stresses. Coming in at a surprising 10.5%ABV, the Pimp My Ride is a strong Belgian Style Christmas Ale. Pimp My Sleigh boasts intricate aromas, sweet dark malts, dark fruit raisins, figs and spicy phenols. A Christmas Ale offering a rich complexity to its drinker, Pimp My Sleigh is another great holiday beer option along with the Holly Jolly.

 



Dining Review – Monte Cello’s – Wexford

Icon Written by admin on November 2, 2013 – 3:51 pm

Monte Cello’s Wexford                                                                       By: Suz Pisano

Serving up so much more that pizza, Monte Cello’s in Wexford wowed us with fresh ingredients, delicious recipes and a hometown charm that’s undeniable, all within this family owned and operated business. I might be a bit partial to family businesses, but with many pizza chains serving up frozen, pre-fabricated products, it great to find a restaurant like Monte Cello’s; one that lives up to its family values and tradition of serving nothing but fresh, homemade dishes.   Monte Cello’s supplies fresh dough and ingredients daily to all their locations, which are known mainly for their great pizzas.  This month, I want to focus on the “much more than pizza” aspect of their Wexford location.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love just a great pizza, but Monte Cello’s offers much more, such as their signature appetizers like Pepperoni Rolls ($7.99) and Buffalo Chicken Rolls ($8.99); I could have eaten an entire order of these, they were simply delicious. They’re just little pillow puffs wrapped around cheese and your choice of pepperoni or spicy chicken, with marinara sauce or ranch dressing for dipping.  Spinach Rolls ($7.99) are also on the menu, but those will have to wait until my next visit. Wings ($9.99/12 per order) are available with your choice of rubs or sauces: Sauces–Hot, Mild, Honey BBQ, Bourbon, Garlic, General Tso’s; Dry Rubs–Cajun, Wing Dust, Smokey BBQ, or Ranch.    The Banana Peppers ($8.99) were also a favorite with the Nightwire crew- fresh banana peppers hollowed and stuffed with seasoned ground veal and sausage, covered with sauce and cheese, then baked to perfection.  My favorite appetizer of all time has to be their Fried Zucchini ($7.99) though. Monte Cello’s does not disappoint with its thinly sliced zucchini, gently breaded then deep fried, not greasy, just simply moist and delicious.

Grilled Gourmet Burgers include choices like the Texas Style Burger ($10.99) a real two hander! A 1/2 lb. burger with bubbly melted cheddar, topped with onion rings and served with a side of golden brown fries and barbecue sauce.  The California Burger ($10.99) is grilled and topped with fresh sliced avocado, lettuce, tomatoes, red onion and a homemade, roasted garlic mayonnaise.  Other options include the Buffalo, Blackened or Bacon & Cheddar Burgers.  Consider yourself warned–burgers are large and served with a healthy helping of fries, so you better have an appetite!

You’ll find classic Italian entrees at Monte Cello’s like Chicken or Eggplant Parmesan, Baked Ziti, Lasagna, Stuffed Shells or Pasta Primavera. The Chicken Parmesan ($13.99) was a hands down favorite of the Nightwire crew. The chicken was moist and tender, lightly breaded and topped with lots of bubbling cheese, served with a side of pasta, a definite winner! The Pasta Primavera ($11.99) includes your choice of pasta, topped with fresh vegetables, sautéed in an oil and garlic sauce, and served with mini garlic bread with cheese. Aw…simply scrumptious! The choices seem endless with dishes like Meatball Casserole ($12.99), four large meatballs over a bed of pasta, covered with sauce and cheese and baked; or Crab Ravioli ($14.99), ravioli stuffed with Blue Crab, tossed in a light lobster sauce and topped with sun dried tomatoes.

Veal dishes include Veal Parmesan ($15.99) and their Meat and Cheese Lasagna ($12.99). Two-thirds of a pound of pasta, meat and cheese, there’s a reason this is an all-time favorite. If you’re a fan of vegetarian options, you want to try a Monte Cello’s dinner favorite- the Zucchini Parmesan ($10.99). Fresh sliced and breaded zucchini, deep-fried, covered with sauce, cheese, baked and served with a side of pasta. Salmon, Chicken Madeira and a New York Strip Steak round out the plentiful dinner offerings. There is literally something for everyone with an appetite in this section of their extensive menu.

For lighter fare, Monte Cello’s offers a variety of salads.  Our favorite was the Caramelized Walnut and Apple Salad ($10.99) with caramelized walnuts over a bed of spring mix topped with a grilled chicken breast and accented with Granny Smith apples. This salad was served with a side of champagne vinaigrette dressing which compliments it perfectly.  The Steak Salad ($10.99) was expertly prepared; the steak was done perfectly, so tender and juicy it melted in your mouth. Served on top of a fresh bed of greens, red peppers, fresh mushrooms, French fries, and topped off with shredded cheddar cheese, it is a more filling option than the Walnut and Apple Salad.   I have to mention the Homemade Italian Wedding Soup ($3.25 cup & $3.99 bowl). It’s homemade and delicious, a true Italian classic, and available daily, in addition to the homemade soup of the day.  They also offer a plethora of sandwiches, wraps, and hot hoagies.

Make sure you save room for dessert, Monte Cello’s bakery fresh treats await!  Fresh Carrot Cake and Chocolate Cake are their staples, and seasonal favorites are available. What a perfect ending to a perfect meal!  There truly is something for everyone; with an extensive menu, full of large portions and reasonable prices, Monte Cello’s is definitely one of our favorites.  Their commitment to quality and great service will keep you coming back!

Monte Cello’s in Wexford has been totally remodeled; the transformation is inviting and relaxing, making Monte Cello’s a truly a great place to dine. Or stop in and watch the game at the bar with large screen TV’s, happy hour specials and an abundance of beer and cocktail choices. Check out their website where you can sign up for their email club, peruse the menu, get directions, learn about other locations, or even better use their Mobile VIP app; you can join the Mobile VIP club by texting MONTES to 41242.

Open 7 days a week – Monday thru Thursday 11:00 AM to 10:00 PM, Friday and Saturday 11:00 AM to 11:00 PM, Sunday 12:00 PM to 10:00 PM. Located at 10441 Perry Highway in Wexford.

If you haven’t tried been to Monte Cello’s lately, you definitely need to check them out in Wexford or their North Hills location – 2198 Babcock Blvd. Pittsburgh, PA 15209. Phone: 412-821-0600.

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Christmas Beers 2013

Icon Written by admin on November 2, 2013 – 3:47 pm

5 Must Try Christmas Beers…. Available at Major Beer Distributors and Bottle Shops

By: Chris Wise

 Sly Fox Christmas Ale – 5.5% ABV

            This malty, full-bodied red ale is packed full of traditional mulling spices designed to warm you up on a cold evening. Sly Fox is able to balance the flavors of ginger, clove, allspice, cinnamon and nutmeg to create a truly unique seasonal beer. Beers trying to bring together this many spices can be overpowering sometimes, but the Sly Fox Christmas Ale is surprisingly drinkable and delicious. Sly Fox is also particularly proud that all ingredients are added fresh instead of using extracts. The cinnamon dominates the flavor and aroma of the beer, with hints of vanilla and brown sugar backing it. Nutmeg is the other dominating flavor pulling this beer together.

Compared with other winter and Christmas ales, Sly Fox is able to create a flavorful beer without overwhelming the drinker. At just 5.5% ABV, the Christmas Ale is a tamer option than some higher alcohol content winter beers. The ale has a deep, hazy amber color, which looks great when poured in a glass, and has a creamy texture and a dry finish. Sly Fox’s Christmas Ale is a great way to get introduced to winter ales, using spices in balance and creating a robust yet drinkable ale.  The 2013 Christmas Ale will be available in draft houses, 12 oz. cans and 25.4 oz. corked bottles. This year’s cans are designed to look like an ugly sweater and have gift tags on the label so they can be personalized. Ugly sweaters, gift giving, cinnamon and nutmeg, all in one can, sounds like Christmas to me.

Saranac Caramel Porter – 5.4%ABV

Saranac’s Caramel Porter is a robust, flavorful porter reminiscent of a by-gone era. Combining dark caramel malts with Fuggles and East Kent Golding’s hops creates a smooth, yet slightly bitter, roasted flavor. A longtime favorite among craft beer drinkers and Saranac’s #1 requested beer; this is a very dark beer that boasts a lighter flavor. Unfortunately, this seasonal offering can be difficult to get your hands on, especially considering Saranac does not adhere to a strict brewing schedule. (Their website even admits “(perennial beers tend to reappear depending on the season…and frankly when we feel like it.”) The point being if you either see this porter, a six-pack or in a variety pack, on the shelves at the beer distributor, make sure to get your hands on some while you can.

At first sip you taste the rich malty, roast flavor which is smoothed over by toffee and caramel flavors which linger in your mouth afterward. Perfect for casual drinking coming in at 5.4% ABV, the porter has a medium-sweet finish with almost no hints of hop. The mixture of coffee and molasses flavors gives the beer a great combination of flavors, reminding you of pancakes and syrup. This porter is a great dark beer to try for the inexperienced porter drinker, with an amazing combination of flavors and malty finish. And remember to keep an eye out for this one while you can still get it.

Arcadia Ale’s Cocoa Loco – 7% ABV

We are lucky Arcadia Ale’s Tim Surprise didn’t stop at try #9 in coming up with Cocoa Loco. The idea for the brew came from Tim’s love of Young’s Double Chocolate Stout and Arcadia Ale’s track-record at successfully reproducing British-inspired ales for 10 years at the time. Tim thought, “How hard could it be?” and set out to create a triple chocolate stout of his own. Turns out it was much tougher than Tim could have imagined. Instead of tweaking the recipe once or twice, get it right, it took Arcadia Ales ten recipes before they were satisfied with the results. And to be honest, we’re happy they didn’t stop till effort #10, because they definitely got it right in the end.

The patience it took to find the right balance when mixing three different chocolate malts together with a number of other premium two-row malted barley’s finally resulted in a success. By keeping the cocoa nibs in the boil during the process and adding a small amount of lactose, milk sugar, for mouth feel, Arcadia was rewarded greatly for their efforts: Cocoa Loco is a well-balanced, complex, rich, creamy chocolate stout that evokes a chocolate shake from your childhood. Balancing the sweet, roasty and creamy tastes was certainly a struggle, but in the end the result was well worth the agony along the way.

Great Divide Hibernation Ale – 8.7%

            A celebrated winter tradition since 1995, Great Divide’s Hibernation Ale is a robust, dry-hopped ale. Great Divide, known for their IPA’s and Yeti series of Stouts, ages this English-style Old Ale for three months before it is ready for sale. The lengthy aging process gives Hibernation its revered malty-richness, complex hop profile and hearty warming character. This means Hibernation Ale is ready to enjoy as soon as you purchase it or can be stored in your cellar and enjoyed anytime.

Hibernation Ale begins with a wonderfully clean aroma, almost like a lager, which masks the beer’s very complex flavor profile. Upon tasting, you can notice flavors of chocolate, smoke, coffee, candy and brown sugar sweetness at first, followed by toffee and a mild, herbal hop spice. Hibernation finishes slightly sweet with a lingering aftertaste of smoke. This amazing flavor profile has won Hibernation the Gold Medal at the Great American Beer Festival in the Strong Ale/English-Style Old Ale category, as well as a number of silver medals. With its medium-full body, moderate carbonation, and reassuring alcohol warmth, this beer is perfect for chilly nights.

Thirsty Dog’s 12 Dogs of Christmas – 8.3% ABV

            There is currently debate swarming in Ohio over which brewery can lay claim to the best Christmas Ale in the region. Some would hand the award to Great Lakes Christmas Ale, but there is a lesser known rival out in Ohio which has many questioning the supremacy of Great Lakes. Thirsty Dog, located in Akron, Ohio, thinks their Christmas Ale is king of the holiday season, and has the profile to back up this claim. Unfortunately, Thirsty Dog is not widely available as other beers, such as say Great Lakes, so try some out when you get a chance to decide which you like better for yourself.

The 12 Dogs has a deep, dark copper color with an off-white head, and a very robust aroma of cinnamon, ginger, allspice, and nutmeg (it reminds one of opening up a Christmas cookie tin). The ginger and cinnamon are the dominating flavors, with a backing of nuttiness, which balances the flavors well. Thirsty Dog claims, “We feel it is the perfect libation, filled with flavors of the season,” which I agree with. If the 12 Dogs of Christmas can’t get you into the holiday spirit, then you truly are a Scrooge.

All of the above Christmas Beers are proudly distributed by Galli Beer Distributing Company.



Cain’s Saloon

Icon Written by admin on October 20, 2013 – 9:05 pm

Cain’s Saloon                                                                                      By:  Jake Mulliken

Walking into Cain’s Saloon, the delicious aroma of beer battered onion rings, burgers and craft beer immediately announces itself. The interior has no frills, no beat you over the head gimmicks like certain chain restaurants; it is a comfortable and easy environment. As you enter, you notice the 33 beer tap system behind the bar, the limitless selection of liquor (bacon vodka!), and the flat screens that line the walls showing every category of sport imaginable. The bar is a classic wooden beast that stretches like an oak serpent from front to back. The tables and stools are high up, in the fashion of old school sports bar. Weaving your way through the bar area and into the back, you will find a dining area that is simply laid out, much like the front. Televisions connect ceiling and wall, and various jerseys signed by athletes from Dan Marino to Sydney Crosby hang above the booths that outline the periphery.

As mentioned earlier, Cain’s has a considerable beer selection. Naturally, they carry hometown favorites like Yuengling, Fat Heads and East End, but their selection also boasts some fine brews from around the country. Heavy Seas Loose Cannon IPA is a favorite among customers.

Cain’s is not only a sports bar. It is much more than your typical watering hole with the NFL Sunday Ticket. Cain’s is a bastion of the Dormont community; a place that, aside from catering to the local scene, hosts anniversaries, birthdays and receptions as well as fundraisers to aid people in the community. If you live in Dormont, odds are some of your most cherished memories take place at Cain’s. It is more than just a bar, it is Dormont’s living room, where family can gather to enjoy a game, some good, old fashioned quality time, or a good meal. Below are highlights from Cain’s staggeringly delicious offerings we sampled.

Appetizers:

Cain’s World Famous Cheese Sticks: $6.99: Stuffed with a secret mix of cheeses and battered in Panko bread crumbs with a hit of spices, and served with a side of house marinara. These fellas are gargantuan and a solid, gourmet interpretation of an old favorite. Try them with the Loose Cannon IPA, awesome!

Cain’s House Chili: Crock: $2.99/Bowl: 3.99: Cain’s own award winning recipe is sure to take you back to your childhood. Old school home style chili. Hearty, meaty and near perfect, especially with a Guinness.

Entrees:

Open Faced Steak Sandwich: 8 oz. NY Strip $9.99/6 oz. Filet Mignon $14.99: Your choice of Filet or Strip always served medium rare, unless otherwise specified, atop grilled Italian garlic bread topped with grilled portabella and crumbled blue cheese. Served with your choice of side. A word of advice: go with the baked potato. You get your choice of classic, stuffed or twice baked. Couple all of that with a cold pint of Fat Heads Pumpkin Ale and you are gold.

Pastrami Smoked Salmon Club: $12.99: Sushi grade Pastrami styled smoked salmon (smoked in house), thick sliced bacon, lettuce and tomato topped with house made dill mayo on thick sliced marble rye. Add a side of sweet potato waffle fries and polish it off with a Hoegaarden.

Lobster Stuffed Ravioli: $14.99: This stuff is good, really good. No, awesome. Huge ravioli stuffed to the brim with thick lumps of lobster. Drenched in house made sauce that includes fresh tomatoes, spinach and huge chunks of langostino lobster. Served with garlic Italian bread. Have a glass of white wine with this bad boy.

Homemade Brownie:  Cain’s brownie’s are made fresh daily and let me tell you…they are to die for…death by chocolate would be a good way to describe it!  Served with ice cream and whipped cream.. Wow!! Simply scrumptious and definitely a must try!

All of these delectable dishes are prepared by Cain’s own chef, Andrew Bash.

Don’t go to Cain’s expecting typical bar food like greasy gut pounding potato skins and floppy cheese sticks. You can, of course, get your standard pub fare, but not in the standard frozen bag Tyson’s chicken kind of way. These guys are doing it right. Locals who never venture outside of your borough, you are missing out! There is a food revolution happening under your noses and Cain’s is at the forefront.

Cain’s provides a modern and delicious twist on old time American comfort food. Whether it is slow cooked Sunday BBQ, make it yourself Bloody Mary’s, the Cod Father or the gargantuan Pittsburgh Pierogie, anyone can find something they like. From in house soups, smoked and roasted meats to sauces, Cain’s has an appreciation for fresh ingredients and solid, friendly atmosphere and service. Cain’s offers daily specials and  Prix Fixe Dinner Specials (which includes soup, salad, entrée, 2 sides and homemade desserts) Monday through Friday 3pm-1am. They are also open for breakfast daily Monday through Friday –  7am-11am, Sat & Sun, 8am – noon. Go on the weekends and experience “Free Valet Parking;” go anytime, and remember to try something outside of your wheel house. Who knows, you might just learn something new about yourself.

Cain’s Saloon is located in Dormont at 3239 West Liberty Avenue – Pittsburgh, PA 15216 – phone: 412.561.7444 or visit them on the web to view all of their menus at www.cainssaloon.com

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Straub Brewing

Icon Written by admin on October 20, 2013 – 9:00 pm

Straub                                                                                                    By:  Chris Wise

Founded by Peter Straub in 1872, Straub Brewery has been producing delicious lagers with virtually the same process since its foundation over 140 years ago. Peter Straub began as a cask craftsman in Germany before moving to Allegheny City, Pennsylvania, in 1869 at the young age of 19, immediately going to work at the local brewery, Eberhardt and Ober Brewing Company. In 1872, Peter Straub settled in St. Mary’s, Pennsylvania, which would become the home of his brewery for years to come.

The standard Straub Brewery date of 1872 reflects when Staub moved to St. Mary’s and soon after began courting the daughter of local brewery owner, Francis Sorg. Straub married Sorg’s oldest daughter Sabina on November 23, 1875, and they would go on to have 10 children together. Family remains important to the Straubs, as many are still either directly or indirectly involved in the brewery after all these years and the company remains under family ownership to this day.

Early on, Peter introduced his sons to the world of brewing. Straub used wooden kegs for his beer. He always placed a red band around his barrels to ensure that people would know they were drinking his beer and so that he would get them back. As a lasting trademark tribute to Peter, the brewery continues to place a bright red band around each of its barrels. Red has become a trademark color for the brewery.

Following Peter’s death on December 17, 1913, his sons assumed control of the brewery, renaming it the Peter Straub Sons Brewery. During this time, the brewery produced Straub beer as well as other beer, such as the pilsner-style Straub Fine Beer and Straub Bock Beer. In 1920, the Straub Brothers Brewery purchased one-half of the St. Marys Beverage Company, also called the St. Marys Brewery, where St. Marys Beer was produced. During Prohibition, which lasted from January 29, 1920, until December 5, 1933, the brewery produced nonalcoholic near beer. On July 19, 1940 they purchased the remaining common stock and outstanding bonds of the St. Marys Beverage Company.

Since that time, Straub has continued brewing their original line of great beers, while expanding their portfolio and pushing the envelope with their new recipes.

Beers

IPL

While many beer drinkers will be familiar with an IPA(India Pale Ale), few will have seen an IPL(India Pale Lager), which doesn’t have quite the bitter kick that many IPA’s boast. Brewed with Canadian two-row, Munich and Caramel malts, Bravo, Cascade and Columbus hops are all dry hopped for 5 days before North American Lager yeast is added. The result is a deep-golden Lager with a lingering, white foam head. Aromas of citrus, orange peel, grapefruit and floral notes hit the nose first, while it starts with a smooth-yet-bitter taste and a lingering, refreshing grapefruit finish. Coming in at 5.6% ABV and 64 IBUs, this is an interesting take on pale beers, and definitely an exciting new recipe from Straub which combines traditional IPA malts with Straub’s lager brewing legacy.

Maibock

This pale bock was brewed with imported German Pilsner and Vienna malts along with domestic Munich and Caramel malts. By balancing the malty sweetness with Liberty and Mt. Hood hops grown in the Pacific Norhtwest and bred from German Hallertau stock, this traditional German Maibock is a delicious showing of the style. Being hit first by floral notes and grainy sweet-malt aromatics, this Maibock offers a medium body with a creamy, smooth start with a spicy finish. A great way to celebrate spring, this Maibock comes in at 6.9% ABV and 35 IBUs.

Straub Lager

The recipe that started it all, this traditional pale lager is brewed in the American-style using domestic malted barley and corn to produce a refreshing and extremely session able beer. Available in both green and brown bottles depending on your location, this American classic is the Straub mainstay that helped them build a brewing legacy and survive over 140 years. Available in Light at 3.2% ABV, the traditional recipe comes in at 4.1% ABV.

Straub Amber

Amber Lager is the most recent addition to Straub’s line of year round offerings, along with Straub Lager and Straub Lager Light, and is another well-balanced offering. Slighty sweet flavors are balanced nicely with Pacific Northwest hops, and give this lager a beautiful copper color. With a nice malty character and gentle hints of caramel, this lager is 4.1% ABV.

Groundhog Altbier

While Straub offered a Groundhog Special Brew for a number of years, for a number of years it was simply the tradtitional Straub Light with a nifty new label. However, last year Straub introduced the world to their first Altbier at Groundhogapalooza, a traditional German-style beer brewed with German Pilsner, Vienna, Munich, and Black Hops, Sraub’s first recipe without their traditional flaked corn found in their other recipes. The perfect warmer against the winter cold, this altbier is copper in color with a pronounced malt flavor. Groundhog is brewed with imported German hops for a firm, bitter edge, and fermented with authentic German Ale yeast. Boasting 40 IBU’s and 5.4% ABV, this is the drink to reach for when it looks like six more weeks of winter outside.

1872 Lager

The first recipe brewed by Straub after the original Lager and Amber beers, this recipe is a throwback to the heritage that helped build Straub’s legacy. Straub brewed this pre-prohibition era recipe for the first time in decades 2 years ago for their fall Legacy Sampler Pack, and received such warm support for it they are bringing it back for the summer Sunshine Sampler Pack this summer.

Pilsner

This all malt Pilsner is being rolled out in the 2014 summer Sunshine Sampler Pack, and boast a nice, clean finish that fans of Pilsner’s will love. Straub Pilsner will also be available in select locations on draught.

Straubweizen

This traditional German-style Wheat Beer will be a refreshing summer option for fans of Straub or Weizen-beers. A true Hefeweizen, this new recipe will be available in the 2014 Sunshine Sample coming in May of 2014.

Straubtoberfest

The brewers at Straub are looking forward to fulfilling the countless requests for a German-style Oktoberfest Beer. Coming out in September of 2014, check Staubbeer.com for specific details in August.

Straub offers two sampler packs yearly: Sunshine Sampler in May and June offering their: IPL, 1872 Lager, Pilsner, and Straubweizen; Legacy Sampler in November and December offering their: IPL, 1872 Lager, Straubator Doppelbock, and Munich Lager.



Mission Brewing Company

Icon Written by admin on August 30, 2013 – 11:58 am

Mission Brewing Company                                                                                       By: Chris Wise

             How do you go from selling commercial property for Wells Fargo to owning and operating one of the breweries registered in California? Ask Dan Selis, who resurrected Mission Brewing after nearly 90 years of inactivity. Selis started brewing Mission beer in 2007 when he began operating a small brewery attached to a restaurant in La Jolla, California. Mission Brewery was a historic part of San Diego, starting in 1913 and being closed down by prohibition, and Dan, as a homegrown San Diegan, wanted to pay homage to that history. Dan started his beer making journey making home brews in his early twenties, and it has taken him to their current  location in the Gas Lamp Quarter of San Diego.

After spending two years successfully nurturing his business, Dan Selis realized he had outgrown his first brewery. Mission moved to a new, larger complex in Chula Vista; in another two years, Mission was on the move again. This time, Mission made the jump into the historic 14,000 square foot Wonder Bread building (built in 1834) in the Gas Lamp Quarter of San Diego. The larger facility allows the brewery to produce 10,000-plus barrels a year, which, as Dan Selis explains, accommodates the incredible growth in the craft beer market. “We entered the beer industry at a great time,” Dan explains. “The industry is increasing double-digits every year. In terms of dollars, it’s the hottest section in alcohol.”

Not only does the larger facility allow for more production, it also allows for the public to meet with the brewers face-to-face and provide feedback in the tasting room, which can accommodate up to 400 visitors at one time. Dan explains “Now, we not only get to sell it [our beer], we can also use the tasting facility to as a lab to create new beers.” Visitors will be able to sign up for tours of the facility, sample seven of the brews, or sign up for a viewing of their favorite variety getting bottled. Martin Saylor, national sales manager, explained they have tried to make the brewery as open to the public as possible, even allowing visitors to bring their dogs in with them.

How has Mission been able to expand so quickly while also maintaining a loyal following among beer aficionados? One reason is their head brewer, John Egan, has experience working with a nationally competitive beer, Stone Brewing. Coming to Mission in hopes of imparting some of his knowledge, Egan has been able to maintain the quality of their main brews in the face of increased production, while expanding their seasonal output. Mission has five mainstay brews: three German styles and two IPAs. The three German style brews are the Mission Amber, the Mission Blonde, and the Mission Hefeweizen, and the IPAs are the Mission IPA and the Shipwrecked Double IPA. In addition to these five beers, Selis explains, “John will be making a new beer every other month, and we’ll test it here in the tasting room, in other bars, and in places outside of San Diego. With that feedback, we can see what’s got the potential for production on a larger scale.” Egan even recently came out with an Extra Pale Ale, El Conquistador EPA, in honor of his newly born son, Jasper.

While it may sound like Mission has been impossibly busy over the last couple of years, they also stay busy participating in local events and charities. In June of 2013, Mission hosted Pints for Pups at their brewery to help benefit San Diego’s Guide Dogs for the Blind non-profit organization. On August 22, they are having a beer pairing at Morton’s Steakhouse to exhibit how well Mission beers go with quality steaks. This September, they will be participating in Drink Eat Play’s Septemberfest, America’s answer to Oktoberfest. The festival will feature over 150 types of beer, countless food options, and “and all in all, a celebration of everything that’s great about American culture.”

While Mission may have a rich history, its owner Dan Selis is resting on his laurels. Mission is constantly looking forward to come up with new recipes or get their delicious brews into the hands of those who have never tasted them. Whether you happen to be at the San Diego Padre’s Petco Stadium or at your local pub, check out one of Mission’s five classic brews or one of their exciting seasonal brews.

Mission IPA

Mission’s take on an IPA celebrates the history of IPAs while also interpreting it in a distinctively modern American style. This IPA won the bronze medal at the Great American Beer Festival in 2007, and has been a mainstay at Mission ever since. Mission describes the IPA: “Cascade and Centennial hops are employed generously and the result is an earthy ale that is most drinkable.” If you’re looking for a delicious IPA to enjoy any time, grab a case of Mission IPA.

6.8% ABV, 66 IBU

Shipwrecked Double IPA

Winner of the 2012 silver medal at the Los Angeles International Commercial Beer Competition, this double IPA is so eminently drinkable one hardly realizes it’s a DIPA. With the mix of fruits and depth of the malt-backed finish, the Shipwrecked DIPA is instantly distinct. By using three types of hops, Cascade, CTZ, and Centennial hops, this DIPA provides the drinker with an intense hop profile. After a particularly hard day at the office, grab this double IPA to wash away the worries of your day.

9.25% ABV, 75 IBU

Mission Amber

This Dusseldorf-Style Altbier was winner of the gold medal at both the 2008 San Diego Professional Beer Competition and 2013 California State Fair Commercial Craft Brewing Competition, with good reason. With a lager-like spirit and toasty character, this Amber brew balances the bitterness perfectly. Mission has achieved a beer with a lingering sweet caramel taste buttressed by the generous use of Munich, Vienna and Pilsner malts. Anybody looking for a very session-able beer need look no further.

5% ABV, 43 IBU

Carrack

This Imperial Red Ale is a balance of malts and citrus which results in a brew that head salesman Martin Saylor notes “drinks like satin.” Mission came up with this beer by dry hopping a healthy dose of kettle hops with Summit and Cascade hops. The crystal and rye malts, along with a dash of brown sugar, produce a complex, malty taste. A different brew than many others Mission has to offer, the Carrack is an intense drink which rewards the drinker with a complex taste.

10.2% ABV, 71 IBU

El Conquistador Extra Pale Ale

A Session-Style American Pale Ale, El Conquistador boasts a hoppy taste while not overloading the drinker with its alcohol content. This XPA offers drinkers a bready, malty body highlighted by the soft lemon and melon esters flavors. By dry hopping Centennial and experimental hops from the Yakima Valley, Mission has created an XPA with a pale golden color and loads of hoppy flavor. Brewed in celebration of the head brewer’s son’s birth, drink one down to celebrate all that is good about life.

4.8% ABV, 44 IBU

Mission Beers are proudly distributed locally by Galli Distributing.



Lagunitas

Icon Written by admin on August 30, 2013 – 11:57 am

Lagunitas                                                                                                                    By: Chris Wise

Currently standing at number six on the list of America’s top independent breweries, Lagunitas is looking to make the jump to the big leagues. Opened in 1993 in Lagunitas, California by Tony Magee, Lagunitas has become one of America’s favorite craft beers. With their inventive interpretations of classic brews and unique packaging scheme, Lagunitas has built its reputation around its landmark IPA and are looking to gain some new customers. Owner Tony Magee recently completed plans which will expand his brewery’s capacity by 250,000 barrels a year.

Magee managed this by purchasing the old Cinespace film studio in the Douglas Park neighborhood in Chicago, Illinois. Opening a new brewery is nothing new for owner Tony Magee, as Lagunitas has moved locations twice before. However, Lagunitas will keep its current brewery in Petaluma, California, while opening the second location in Chicago in December, 2013. This second location will not only allow Tony to expand the brewing capacity of Lagunitas, but also cut down shipping costs to the Midwest and allow Lagunitas to reach a new market.

Owner Tony Magee explains “Shipping across deserts and mountain ranges cuts down on our profits, so adding a second location, centrally located in Chicago will help us cut down on costs.” The Chicago site will take over production and distribution to destinations from Denver to Maine and South Beach. Production in the tiny town of Petaluma had reached its limit, and Magee began to look to expand. As a native of Chicago, the move made sense not only on the spread sheet, but also in the heart of homegrown son of Chicago.

The brewery in Chicago will expand brewing capacity, cut down on shipping costs and allow the company to showcase their brews in the taproom. Lagunitas’s current taproom in their Petaluma brewery boasts a tasting of that day’s brews and some delectable munchies to fill you up while you’re exploring their expansive brew menu. Not only are good food and good beer on the menu, Lagunitas has live music in their taproom Wednesday through Sunday. What more could you ask for on a warm summer afternoon in sunny California than live music, good food, good friends, and good beer?

While it may sound like Tony Magee has been solely focused on expanding his business, he and Lagunitas have never lost sight of what makes his brewery special: the love of making good beer and enjoying that beer with good people. Lagunitas has remained active in their local community to let its customers know they appreciate all the support they have received. They do this by actively supporting charities that reach out to them on their website. All a charity has to do is submit a listing of their charity on the Lagunitas website, and Lagunitas will support them by donating a number of their brews for fundraisers. Lagunitas has supported both local and national organizations in their effort to help admirable charities.

Lagunitas makes great beers and gets involved in great charities, but they don’t let it get to their heads, and they keep pushing the boundaries of brewing. Taking one look at their labels reveals they still have a sense of humor about themselves. Their Dogtown IPA boasts how far they have come from their original IPA recipe in 1993. “This is not the original Pale Ale brewed in far away 1993…It is way better. Back then the beer tasted like broccoli and kerosene and the carbonation ate right through and drained your stomach into your gut.” At least they are honest about their journey. They renamed their Kronik brew Censored after the federal label-approving agency censored the name. They named one of their brews Lagunitas Sucks, to show they are not above poking fun at themselves. This irreverent attitude has allowed Lagunitas to continually push the boundaries of craft beer making, and in the process, become one of the most popular companies in the rapidly expanding craft beer markets.

Lagunitas IPA

The first seasonal Lagunitas ever put out, Lagunitas IPA has been cranking out since it was first introduced in 1995. Big on its hoppy-sweet finish, this pale ale balances the levels of malts and hops in order to create a highly-drinkable brew. Described by Lagunitas as “ruthlessly delicious and homicidally hopped for drinking enjoyment,” this IPA is the mainstay of Lagunitas for good reason.

6.2% ABV

Lagunitas Pils

This Czech Style Pilsner is a lighter offer from Lagunitas, boasting loads of imported Saaz hops and a bottom-fermenting yeast strain that gives the beer its smooth finish. According to the label, “”Like Adam and Eve, Isaac and Ishmael, Mao and Confucius, Good and Evil, Day and Night, Hittites and Visigoths, John and Lorena, or Groucho and Moe, Ales and Lagers are as different as can be. Still, we must love each for who they are, separately but equally, with liberty, and justice, for all. Cheers!” While Lagunitas prides itself on its year-round IPAs, this pilsner is a great change of pace.

6% ABV

Hop Stoopid

A massively-hopped double IPA, this brew delivers on its promise to transform your state of mind. Billed as “a double-barrel dose of malt and hops guaranteed to blast right through whatever lingers from the night before,” this brew is for the more adventurous IPA drinker. The Hop Stoopid combines hop extract and oils rather than flowers, which gives the beer a stronger hop flavor.

8% ABV, 102 IBUs

Little Sumpin Sumpin

A truly unique style featuring a strong hop finish on a silky body. A filtered pale wheat ale that is great for both IPA and wheat beer fans.

7.5% ABV

Maximus

First brewed in 1996, this bigger, badder version of the flagship IPA has a deeper body than the IPA. Boasting similar hops to the IPA but in much more abundance, the Maximus has a spicy finish with a lot of rose petal and increased emphasis on the hops.

8.2% ABV, 70 IBUs

Seasonals

Brown Shugga

A strong American ale, Brown Shugga was originally brewed in 1997 as a botched version of Old GnarlyWine Ale resulting in this dangerous brew. Packing quite a punch at 9.99% ABV, dangerously slammable, rich, roasty, and mysteriously drinkable. According to the label, “We believe this Special Ale is Something Unique. Feeding Brown Cane Sugar to otherwise Cultured Brewery Yeast is a’kin to feeding Raw Shark to your Gerbil.”

9.99% ABV, 51.1 IBUs

Sucks Ale

Originally brewed in 2011 as a Brown Shugga substitute due to construction-induced capacity issues, Lagunitas liked it so much it had to make a return trip. Lagunitas Sucks is a “cereal medley” of barley, rye, wheat and oats.

7.85% ABV

Undercover Investigation Shutdown

Brewed in remembrance of the “2005 St. Patrick’s Day Massacre” in which the brewery was shut down for 20 days for “operating a disorderly house” after an undercover investigation by the ABC. The brew is aggressive and bitter, much the way Lagunitas felt after the investigation. A malty and rich beer with a snappy hop finish which truly defies style, Lagunitas proudly boasts, “We did the crime. We did the time. We got the bragging rights.”

9.75% ABV

Little Sumpin Wild

A higher gravity seasonal version of the year-round Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale. It’s made with Westmalle Trappist yeast that creates those curious phenolic off-flavors that are freakin’ everyone out these days. Massively dosed with boatloads of wheat and pale malt and finishes with a big, hoppy ending.

8.8% ABV

Lucky 13

This Red Ale boasts a big Amarillo-hopped accent and was first brewed in 2006 to celebrate Lagunitas’ thirteenth birthday. An “ultra-mega-mondo red ale brewed to celebrate 13 years of brewing ultra-hoppy-mega-mondo ales,” the Lucky 13 is sold only in 22oz bombers.

8.9% ABV

Wilco Tango Foxtrot

Lagunitas explains the name, “We planned to release the 2010 Recovery Ale as a follow-up to our 2009 Correction Ale, but we weren’t quite recovering….WTF! So we tried to label it the Whiskey Tango Foxtrot to abide by Army call-letters, but we were told that we couldn’t use the word ‘whiskey’ on a beer label…WTF!” A malty, robust big ol’ Imperial Brown Ale that’s smooth, rich, and chocolatey.

7.8% ABV

Lagunitas is distributed locally by Frank Fuhrer Wholesale.



North Country Brewing Company

Icon Written by admin on August 30, 2013 – 11:55 am

North Country Brewing Company                              By: Rick Perrotta

At North Country Brewing Co., environmental and social consciousness, and community involvement are not mere buzzwords; they are the guiding principles upon which every aspect of the company is built.

In 1998, Bob and Jodi McCafferty purchased an old furniture store on Main Street in downtown Slippery Rock, parts of which are now over 200 years old. By time they had their grand opening in 2005, everything, from ceiling beams to window frames to the moldings on the floor, had been renovated. Using 95% reclaimed wood, recycled from the building  itself or sourced from the surrounding area, Mr. and Mrs. McCafferty personally handcrafted the hardwoods, black walnut, and curly maple that  give the present day building its charming, earthy feel.

Production Brewery Manager Jim Hicks confirmed what is immediately evident when visiting their website, northcountrybrewing.com—North Country Brewing Co. cares deeply about its community and customers.

“That’s true, we try to keep everything as close, as local as possible,” says Mr. Hicks. “And everything we do is about being environmentally and socially conscious.”

The brewers at North Country Brewing Co. create 40 different, high-quality craft beers throughout the course of a given year, 12 of which are regularly available on tap. Local ingredients are used in the brewing of each drink. Select grains and fruits are brought in from local sources, as are spices and herbs. North Country Brewing Co. adds no preservatives or sugars to their beers, as the beverage travels a mere 10 feet from tank to mug. This also eliminates the need for glass bottles.

As little as possible goes to waste at North Country Brewing Co. Used oil from their fryers is refined and converted into bio-diesel fuel. Their post-brewing practices are equally impressive. Spent grains are used to feed local cows. They never touch a landfill. “Environmentally friendly would be the perfect way to put it,” boasts Mr. Hicks.

North Country Brewing Co. is active in the community on several levels. They are a member of the Rock chapter of the North Country Trail, and have adopted the State Game Land 95 section. They have also adopted the Veterans’ Memorial Garden in downtown Slippery Rock and assist Slippery Rock University in keeping the park clean and well maintained.

Beyond that, Mr. McCafferty has spearheaded what he calls the “Polish the Rock” initiative. Four times a year, volunteers from around Slippery Rock join together to sweep cinders from the streets, paint signs, pull weeds, or do anything that they can to beautify their town. It is a testament to what can be accomplished when individuals devote their time and efforts to the community.

North Country Brewing Company is currently in the final phase of a new expansion, according to Mr. Hicks, and is set for completion next month. Currently, they are able to brew seven barrels of beer at once. After the expansion, that number will jump to 60 barrels. The 4 beers distributed will be the Station 33 Firehouse Red, the Buck Snort Stout, the Slimy Pebble Pils, and the Paleo IPA.

Not surprisingly, the choices made concerning distribution are dictated by a concern for the environment and customers. Beer will be available in aluminum cans as opposed to glass bottles. Mr. Hicks says that North Country Brewing Company’s customers tend to prefer an active lifestyle–fishing, camping, hiking–and the cans are more convenient. “They’re lighter, they can be crushed, and they are easier to dispose of.” Aluminum also saves energy and is 99% recyclable. The typical plastic rings used to encircle 6 packs of beer are being replaced by hard cap plastic which is sturdier, returnable and reusable, and made up of 96% recycled plastic.

That’s all good news, but perhaps the best news for local beer lovers is that North Country Brewing Company’s craft selections are soon to be available in the Pittsburgh market. They will be proudly distributed by Vecenie Distributing Company.

STATION 33 FIREHOUSE RED

Station 33 Firehouse Red is an American Red Ale. It contains a fair amount of caramelly maltiness and a burnt sugar quality, from specialty malts, which is balanced with a discreet amount of hops. It pours a ruby color and has an ABV of 5.5%. It complements rich, aromatic, spicy and smoked foods and goes well with chili, BBQ, grilled poultry and meats. Station 33 Firehouse Red is one of North Country Brewing Company’s top selling beers and is always available on tap.

BUCK SNORT STOUT

Buck Snort Stout is a West Coast Style Stout and features bold dark and roasted malt character that is heavily hopped with aromatic American hops. Its coloration is jet black and it has an ABV of 7.0%. Buck Snort Stout highlights the nuttiness and braised caramelized character of dishes with brown, savory sauces; it complements silky, salty foods like oysters on the half shell.

SLIMY PEBBLE PILS

Slimy Pebble Pils is a Bohemian, or Czech, style pilsner. It features fresh maltiness, hints of caramel, plus plenty of aroma, along with bitterness from the spicy Czech hop, Saaz. It pours a brilliant gold and has an ABV of 5.0%. Slimy Pebble Pils works wells with salmon, tuna, and other high-fat, oily fish and marbled meats. The bitterness offers a pleasing contrast with sweet reductions and sauces.

PALEO IPA

Paleo IPA is an American India Pale Ale. This beer features light to moderate maltiness, nearly overwhelmed by resiny, grapefruity American Hops. It pours hazy gold and has an ABV of 6.2%. Paleo IPA complements intensely flavorful, highly spiced dishes and bold sweet desserts. As with the Station 33 Firehouse Red, the Paleo IPA is a customer favorite and always available on tap.

Northern County Brewing Company is located in Slippery Rock – 141 S Main St  Slippery Rock, PA 16057 (724) 794-2337 for more information, directions and hours please visit them at www.northcountybrewing.com – proudly distributed locally by Vecenie Distributing Co.

 

 

 



Leinenkugel Brewing Company – Leine Orange Shandy

Icon Written by admin on August 30, 2013 – 11:52 am

Leinenkugel Brewing Company – Leine Orange Shandy                       by:  Falon Hanley

It was the first Saturday of June, 1922, a scorching spring day in the Alpine foothills of Upper Bavaria. Situated on the western edge of Perlacher Forest, Kugler Alm Biergarten was overrun by a throng of thirsty bicyclists demanding refreshment, and innkeeper Franz Kugler was not prepared. Though he had arranged for the construction of a bike trail that led right to the Kugler Alm’s front door, he never anticipated the crush of 13,000 radlers descending upon his watering hole at once.  As he rushed to serve his parched patrons, Kugler fretted over his quickly diminishing supply of brew. Inspiration struck when he recalled the several thousand bottles of zitronenlimonade he had stored away in the cellar. The sparkling lemon soda was, until then, of no interest to the beer-loving Bavarian public and Kugler could not figure out how to dispose of the useless inventory. Desperate to keep the radlers happy—they were the lifeblood of his business—the savvy gastronome decided to cut his dark brew with the lemon soda and name it Radlermass, which literally translates to “cyclist’s liter.” Kugler fibbed, telling his patrons he purposefully crafted this thirst-quenching, low alcohol shandy for the radlers. After all, they needed to make it back down the hills without falling off their bikes! The cyclists bought Kugler’s story, and the Radlermass took off, its popularity spreading throughout Bavaria and eventually, all of Germany.

When Kugler invented his Radlermass, the concept of shandy was nothing new to Europe. Variations of shandy were already being swigged by Europeans all throughout the continent for years. The English version, shandygaff, was made with equal parts ale and ginger beer. But when the Leinenkugel brothers of the Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company decided in 2007 to create a shandy for the American market, they resolved to stay true to their Bavarian roots. What they came up with was Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy, an American twist on Franz Kugler’s original German radler.

The Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company has a rich history of its own. In 1867, Jacob Leinenkugel, Bavarian immigrant and descendant of a long line of brewmasters, founded the original Leinenkugel Brewery in the logging town of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin with his business partner, John Miller. The soil of northern Wisconsin was just right for growing hops and grains, the rivers and Big Eddy Springs provided the perfect source for pure water, and there was no shortage of thirsty lumberjacks and sawmill workers desiring alcoholic refreshment. The brewery’s beginnings were humble—Jacob and John were the only employees, and the first barrels were delivered to neighboring saloons by cart and a horse named Kate. Seventeen years later, when John Miller sold his share of the company to Jacob Leinenkugel, Jacob enlisted the help of his wife and children to keep the brewery going. Under the Leinenkugel family, the company continued to grow. Even during the Prohibition Era, when most breweries were forced to shutter their doors, the Leinenkugel’s brewery adapted by creating Leino, a non-alcoholic “near-beer” and bottling soda water. By the time the death knell of Prohibition had sounded, the Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company was the largest bottler of soda water in the region.

Five generations later, the Leinenkugel Brewing Company is still thriving under the management of brothers Jake and John Leinenkugel. In 1987, the company merged with beer giant, Miller Brewing Company, allowing the company to expand its reach throughout the upper Midwest, which remains the company’s core market, even as recognition of the Leinenkugel brand spreads rapidly into broader U.S. markets.

In fact, the status of the Leinenkugel brand has skyrocketed within the last few years, thanks in no small part to the popularity of its Summer Shandy. Sales of Summer Shandy, Leine’s take on the traditional German radler, account for one-third of the company’s total sales volume, despite being available only five months out of the year.

So what is a shandy fan to do during the bitter months? Until now, Leine’s lovers would have to safeguard their fall and winter supply by stocking up during the spring and summer. Thankfully, for those who just can’t do without their Leine’s branded shandy no matter the time of year, hoarding is no longer necessary.

Leinenkugel Brewing Company’s Orange Shandy, previously available only in variety packs, is now being offered on its own from September through February. Inspired by the orange harvest, it is a substantial, multi-character brew that conjures visions of vibrant autumn days and cozy winter nights. Orange Shandy even looks like autumn, pouring a hazy, tony orange color. True to its name, the aroma delivers on the orange as well. Brewed with cluster hops and pale and wheat malts, its malt character is a bit more prominent than that of its Summer Shandy counterpart. The taste is enhanced by a spicy, peppery note that harmonizes nicely with the tangy, citrusy characters. It finishes clean, with just a hint of lingering orange sweetness.

Orange Shandy is great with anything spicy or toasty. Try it with toasted coconut shrimp or your favorite Thai noodle dish. If you’re BBQing this Labor Day, Orange Shandy provides the perfect complement to barbecued brisket and, mixed with vinaigrette, makes for a zesty fruit salad dressing. For those who really want to get creative, check out Peg’s Kitchen’s pancake recipe at leinie.com.

Proudly distributed by Wilson-McGinley, Leinenkugel’s Orange Shandy is available September through February in 12- and 16-ounce cans, 12-ounce bottles and on draft at your favorite watering hole.



Kentucky Fall Travel

Icon Written by admin on August 30, 2013 – 11:47 am

Authentic Experiences Enliven Kentucky’s Fall Festivals

One of the best things about visiting Kentucky in the fall is the number of opportunities to enjoy authentic Kentucky experiences through fall festivals. Most every community, large or small, hosts a festival complete with local traditions, food, music and fun. Explore them all at kentuckytourism.com.  Here is just a small sampling of the many possibilities.

Kentucky Bourbon Festival, Sept. 17-22
Uncork a good time as bourbon lovers flock to Bardstown Sept. 17-22, 2013, for the 22nd annual festival celebrating the passion, history and art of making Kentucky bourbon. With more than 40 events and attractions scheduled, you can learn about bourbon mixology and cooking with bourbon, dine and dance in black-tie style and witness the World Championship Bourbon Barrel Relay. www.kybourbonfestival.com

Poppy Mountain Bluegrass Festival, Sept. 17-21
This 20-plus-year-old music fest takes place in Morehead. Offering more than 1,000 acres of camping and featuring 100 bands performing on dual stages, this event attracts more than 20,000 visitors and is a must-see for lovers of bluegrass music. Past performers have included Lonesome River Band and Dr. Ralph Stanley. https://www.facebook.com/PoppyMountainBluegrass

Horse Cave Heritage Festival, Sept. 20-21
Celebrating the heritage of the community, this event features a downtown street festival including arts and crafts, folklife program interviews, a quilt show, antique cars and tractors, live music and a 3K walk/run. http://www.horsecaveky.com/?page=Annual_Heritage_Festival

Barbecue on the River Tournament and Pig Out & Market Days, Sept. 26-28
This family-friendly event in Paducah features plenty food and fun. More than 50 teams compete for the Grand Champions trophy for the best western Kentucky barbecue. The festival includes live music and entertainment, a charitable 5K run and riverboat tours. http://bbqontheriver.org

Cave City PROUD Days, Sept. 27-28
This festival takes place in the downtown and antiques district of Cave City. Special events include the Old Time Outhouse and Bed Race, live music, parade, tractor and motorcycle show, street fair, 5K-10K run and more. http://cavecityproud.com/

St. James Court Art Show, Oct. 4-6
In a tradition spanning more than five decades, one of Kentucky’s premier fall events is this internationally acclaimed art show held in the Old Louisville neighborhood. Featuring 750 juried artists from around the country, the event is attended by lovers of arts and fine crafts from across the region. http://www.stjamescourtartshow.com/

Breathitt County Heritage Fair, Oct. 4-6
Held at Douthitt Park in Jackson, this fair features live music and entertainment, a parade, craft booths, petting zoo and dog show, and outdoor concert. http://www.breathittheritagefair.org/

Forkland Heritage Festival, Oct. 11-12
This festival hosted by Gravel Switch in Boyle County features a variety of historical exhibits including Native American artifacts and vintage farm machinery, a wildlife exhibit, living history skits, live music and entertainment, wagon rides, sorghum making, and a silent auction. http://forklandcomctr.org/

Arts Council of Mercer County Fall Festival, Oct. 11-12
This is a two-day arts and crafts festival featuring the works of juried artists. The event takes place at Old Fort Harrod State Park in Harrodsburg, and includes live demonstrations, music and entertainment, food, children’s activities and more. http://artscouncilofmercer.com/2013-events/

So get out and enjoy Kentucky’s beautiful autumn weather and experience the Bluegrass State’s rich cultural traditions by taking part in a fall festival. Find more listings of festivals at http://www.kentuckytourism.com/events/events.aspx.

 



Yards Brewing Company

Icon Written by admin on August 1, 2013 – 2:56 pm

Yards Brewing Company                                                                                                               By: Sean Creevey

Yards was founded in 1994 in a 900-square-foot garage in Manayunk by two kids fresh out of college. With empty bank accounts, big dreams, and a 3.5 barrel system, they started brewing their trademark libation, Extra Special Ale. At first they could only deliver kegs to local bars, as bottling their brew was a bit out of their price range. Of course, with such a solid brew as ESA, it was only a matter of time until word got around and the demand went up; they needed to expand. Flash forward a couple years to 1997, and the brewery moved to a new location in the Roxborough area of Philadelphia where they upped their capacity to 3,000 barrels a year, started bottling, and introduced the Philadelphia Pale Ale and Brawler brews to their repertoire.  Four years later they moved again, more than doubling their production capacity. Six years later, in 2007, they moved to their current location on the Delaware River waterfront in the Northern Liberties section of Philadelphia. The 26,000-square-foot former skate park has suited them well for the past six years, and they have filled the space with a taproom, complete with pub grub and growlers, a 50 barrel brew house, and enough fermenters to push out 32,000 barrels a year.  Their current location also provides them with an opportunity for  future growth.

Naturally, with growth comes change, but the folks at Yards haven’t changed their passion for brewing, the community or the environment. Yards has always had a focus on English-inspired ales, from the ESA to the IPA, and they relentlessly produce quality ales, focusing on quality, never quantity. When I had the opportunity to visit the brewery I spoke with the head brewer and he told me that they are looking forward to and are more than willing and able to expand again.  However,  it has to be a natural process, and it’s only a matter of time until the word spreads and demand rises. Yards currently distributes to New Jersey, Delaware, East Maryland, North Virginia, and most of Pennsylvania (not Erie, sorry), so tell your friends and family about the little ol’ brewery from the City of Brotherly Love.

Yards’ passion for their work extends beyond the brewery and into the greater environment and their local community. Yards is the first brewery in Pennsylvania to be 100% wind powered— I know what you’re thinking, and no, they don’t have windmills on their roof. Instead, they pay extra to their electric provider to make sure that their energy comes strictly from wind.

There’s also a heavy focus on the community, and they’ve established a program called The Extra Yard which entails is donating beer to charity fundraising functions.  Yards helps out as many groups as they possibly can, from Alex’s Lemonade Stand, to WHYY and Philabundance (a local nonprofit organization that works to alleviate hunger and malnutrition). They even open up their tasting room for organizations to hold events. Last year, Yards donated over 2 tractor trailers worth of beer to charities. To find out more about what they’ve done and what you can do to help visit www.yardsbrewing.com/the-extra-yard.

Lest we all forget, Yards could do none of these things without their brews, and the love that comes from making and drinking them! They have five “signature” ales that are always ready to be poured at their tasting room and wholly define them as a brewery. Their signature series consists of Philadelphia Pale Ale, IPA, Extra Special Ale, Brawler, and Love Stout.

Extra Special Ale:

The flagship, the original, the one and only. This brew is intended for those who know about the casks and it’s not meant to be served icy cold, which means it’s perfect all year round. In the summertime you don’t have to worry about your beer getting warm before you drink it; ESA gets better as it warms! (to a point, of course) In the wintertime you have a brew that warms you from the outside in. And if you live in a house like I do you don’t even have to worry about sticking it in the fridge, the cellar is plenty cold enough. With a malt body, a hoppy finish, and 6% ABV, you can stand to have a couple and maybe then you’ll feel a little extra special yourself.

Brawler:

Originally brewed as a nitro, this “pugilist style ale” is based off an English session ale. Ruby red, malt forward and low in alcohol, this brew is ready to go a few rounds if you are. With seven different malts, Yards has produced a brew that can session with the best of ‘em, with enough flavor to compensate for all the adjuncts everyone else is drinking. 4.2% ABV

Love Stout:

This nitro stout will coat your pallet in delicious chocolate and roasted malt flavors. It will slide down your throat so smoothly that you’ll simply be amazed when it’s gone. And it’s so rich that you’ll just have to ask for another, and another, until you’ve finally fallen in love. Luckily for you it’s only served on draught, so that bartender is your new cupid. 5.5%ABV and 20.5 IBUs gets some brotherly love in your belly.

There’s also the “Ales of the Revolution,” which are ales derived from recipes that were used by some of our founding fathers. In this series there are three brews: General Washington’s Tavern Porter, Poor Richard’s Tavern Spruce, and Thomas Jefferson’s Tavern Ale. The “Ales of the Revolution” are based upon recipes that are either accessible to the public or created piecemeal through various letters, journal entries, and other media. It only makes sense for these brews to be crafted by Yards, a brewery that has lived all over the city where the Founding Fathers made history, and that works diligently to make that city a better place to live, just like the men they’re paying homage too.

General Washington’s Tavern Porter:

Rumored to have been originally brewed to rally his troops on the battlefield, our first president’s Porter is smooth, deep, and warming. While some might call it liquid courage and others a liquid blanket, I call it satisfying. Brewed with chocolate and roasted barley, this brew goes great with a pot roast and pierogies, or your favorite chocolate cake. At 7% ABV and 34 IBUs, you’ll definitely feel something after a couple — call it what you like, just try not to end up with wooden teeth the next morning.

Poor Richard’s Tavern Spruce:

Ben Franklin accomplished A LOT in his lifetime and would be considered a polymath by anyone’s standards. The name “Poor Richard” was a pseudonym used by Franklin when publishing his works. Along with his various inventions, including bifocals and the lightening rod, Franklin created this brew. Of course, being the brilliant man that he was, he circumvented the lack of barley and hops by using molasses and spruce essence. Yards does just this; they actually go up to a local organic farm to literally trim the tips off spruce trees for this brew. At 5% ABV and 13 IBUs, you can stand to have a couple. Maybe it’ll provide some enlightenment and make you the next Poor Richard.

Thomas Jefferson’s Tavern Ale:

Not all ales are created equal. This venerable ale, like Jefferson, is strong-willed and forward-thinking. Using Honey, rye, corn, and oats that were grown on his estate, Jefferson crafted a brew that got him through the winter. I know you might be thinking that corn and oats are technically adjuncts, but believe me when I say there are plenty of flavors to go around. Originally brewed to about 11-13% ABV, this was an ale you’d feel. However, the folks at Yards thought maybe that was a bit much, so they tamed it down to a manageable 8% ABV and 28 IBUs.

Alongside their signature series and the revolutionaries, Yards produces some special brews that aren’t available all the time. There’s the Saison, which if you haven’t tried it yet, find it; they’re out at the brewery and they’re going fast. Cape of Good Hope is an imperial (west coast style) IPA that’s out now. Coming in September they’ll be releasing Cicada, a Belgian IPA (750ml bottles only) and Pynk, a tart berry ale. In November, they will have Old Bartholomew, a Barleywine ale (750 and drought only) and finally in January they’ll be releasing a rye ale. So stay tuned to the brewery at www.yardsbrewing.com for all their new brews and news.  Yards is proudly distributed by Frank Fuhrer Wholesale.

 



Crispin Cider Company

Icon Written by admin on August 1, 2013 – 2:55 pm

Crispin Cider Company                                                       By:  Falon Haley

Look out beer-geeks. There’s a new craft beverage in town. Cider, once the drink of choice for colonial Americans, lost its popularity to beer as the U.S. Industrial Revolution took hold and people began migrating into cities. Over the past several years, however, there has been a resurgence in the popularity of craft ciders across the United States. In fact, the growth of the craft cider industry has surpassed that of craft beer, with cider sales increasing by more than 65% in this past year alone. While many beverage companies have scrambled to grab hold of the burgeoning cider market, few have been able to strike the right balance between innovation and remaining true to traditional cider brewing techniques.

Crispin Cider Company, the third largest producer of cider in the United States, was launched on St. Crispin’s Day in October 2008 in Minneapolis by Joe Heron and his wife, Lesley, after Heron’s previous venture, Nutrisoda, was snapped up by PepsiAmericas. Heron, perceiving a want for premium quality domestic cider in the United States, determined to push the boundaries of cider making. Defying conventional cider profiles, Crispin set out to create a drier apple cider, one that would stay true to the original English ciders brought to the United States by our founding generation, but depart from the sweeter, modern Irish and British styles dominating the market.  When the rapidly growing startup acquired Fox Barrel Cider Company in 2010, Crispin’s headquarters was moved to the Sierra Foothills of Colfax, California, where the premium hard ciders were already being produced. In 2012, Crispin was purchased by MillerCoors, providing the company with the muscle necessary to keep up with the sharp demand growth for their craft ciders. Crispin Cider Company now operates as an independent division of MillerCoors’s craft-and-import division, Tenth and Blake Beer Co.

All of Crispin’s ciders, with the exception of their imported English cider, Browns Lane, are produced at the Colfax cidery using 100% pure, fresh-pressed juice from apples sourced from within the United States. Crispin’s main line is made using a premium blend of three to five varieties of apple, mainly Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, and Washington. There are over 10 pounds of apples in every gallon of cider produced.

Crispin Cider Company uses apple juices produced in various West Coast pressing houses for their ciders. Once pressed, the juices are then shipped to Crispin’s cidery in Colfax, where the process of fermentation begins within 36 to 48 hours. The Colfax cidery is actually a bonded winery, so Crispin’s ciders are produced in the same way as wine. Prepared with a white wine champagne yeast, or, for those who want to spice things up a bit, Sake, Belgian Trappist, and Irish Ale yeasts, the ciders are smoothed with pure apple juice or natural sugar sources, such as organic honey and organic maple syrup, and then lightly carbonated to aid the nose and aroma of the finished product.

What distinguishes Crispin from the competition is the way their ciders are created. Unlike many other mass market ciders, Crispin does not add sugar, artificial colorants, sorbate and benzoate preservatives, or malt or spirit alcohols. All of their ciders are naturally fermented using 100% natural, fresh-pressed American juice, not from concentrate. The delicate tang of the apple is permitted to stand on its own and the result is a crisp, clean flavor profile contrasting the excessively sweet stickiness of certain competing brands.

Crispin Cider Company offers seven different varietals, all gluten-free, including the classic Blue Line: Original, Brut, and Light; Browns Lane, an imported classic English dry cider; and their line of Artisanal Reserves: Honey Crisp, The Saint, Lansdowne, and Cho-tokkyu. Crispin Original is a classically styled, yet untraditional cider with a big apple nose. True to its name, Original finishes crisp and dry. Crispin Light, America’s first light hard apple cider, is a bright, full-flavored cider usually served on ice with a lemon slice for spritzer-style refreshment. Brut, the European style, extra dry cider billed as the “champagne of ciders,” has a fresh apple flavor with a clean, dry finish and a truly champagne-like effervescence. The Artisanal Reserve line offers ciders that are unfiltered, cloudy, and smoothed with natural sugars that deliver taste complexity rarely found in other ciders. Unfortunately, due to state alcohol laws, which dictate that ciders may not be more than 5.5% ABV, the Artisanal Line is not yet available in Pennsylvania. Original, Light, and Brut are available in 4-packs of 12 ounce bottles, or on draft at your favorite local watering hole.

Inspired by traditional, European-style ciders, Crispin’s various ciders are designed to be served over ice, though many prefer it straight from the bottle. The versatility of Crispin Ciders also provides infinite opportunities for creative cocktail making. One of the more popular Crispin cocktails is the Lemon Tree–equal parts Crispin Original and Leinie’s Summer Shandy topped with a slice of lemon–a quick, easy recipe perfect for those humid Western Pennsylvania summer days.  Crispin Cider is proudly distributed by Wilson McGinley.