April 22, 2014

Along a Fence - Shiner FM 966 Farmhouse Ale

I've been writing about it in every few posts for about the last month and a half. I've finally weeded through the backlog of beers I had to review the old way. The way I felt to be kind of drab after two plus years of doing it. I felt that changing it up would be a bit more entertaining whenever I actually get the opportunity to post during the week. I figured it would also be somewhat more interesting to look at for the approximately six or seven people that actually read this stuff. I'm not exactly trying to win a pulitzer here. Some better angles enables us to get better looks at the brews along with some intriguing labels or even cans in some cases. I'll also be trying to incorporate a classic song lyric or a movie quote at the end of each of these just for fun, too.

Quite a sweet and sour scent. Also quite yeasty and estery. Pepper, grass and lemon. This was a very, very crisp brew. Very springy. Thick and golden body. Really had some body to it. A curtain of foggy haze within the body as well.

This would be a great beer to have either sitting back on or leaning against a fence on some random farm somewhere in central/southern Pennsylvania. You know what area I'm thinking of. A perfect place to guzzle a few of these. Neil Young used to play at Farm Aid (he might even still be one of the figure heads for that, I'm not sure) almost every time it came around. I think that makes him fitting to listen to while enjoying one of these.

"Dream up, dream up. Let me fill your cup with the promise of a man." - Neil Young in Harvest

April 21, 2014

Monday Rant: It Gives You Focus

Hops. More Hops. Hop oil. Resin. Grapefruit. Sometime maybe even some orange. All are key characteristics of American IPA's that I've noticed over the three to four years that I've been indulging in the craft beer scene. Characteristics that many of you out there find appetizing and inviting. I've grown to find them overly intense, drab and boring. The race to see which brewer puts the most hops into its IPA's has not entertained me much and you're not wrong for being excited about it. It's just not my thing. It's kind of reminiscent of the multiple times the Major League Baseball home run records have been shattered since my adolescence.

Twitter has always been ablaze with the popularity of session IPA's. I've taken special notice to it with the addition of Founders All Day IPA to the craft beer spectrum (was it some time last year?). I decided to have an All Day IPA as my dinner cap on Saturday and someone almost had to mop up the puddle of drool that I left on the bar.

It was fruity and had layers of flavor other than the ones I mentioned above. It didn't appear as if it was saturated with hop oil. It was somewhere within the spectrum of being both transparent and opaque. A lovely color, too. Why don't we brew more of these session IPA's? They go down easy. The flavors seem to be more focused. You probably won't taste remnants of these brews in the ones you decide to try afterwards. The beers have a mild and bitter bite on the back, but the point is that 85 percent of the drinking experience with one of these isn't entirely on the hops. I don't think that any beer should have the main focus of the hops that are in it, but all of the ingredients that go into the brewing process. Remember that beer is quite subjective!

Then again, this is probably why I'm not a brewer somewhere in the middle portions of Pennsylvania. Still, I think it's a good thing that we are experimenting with the session brews here in the states. So many beers have hit the market that have too high ABV's and are just too complicated in the least. Whatever happened to the simple beers?

Speaking of simple, yet stunning brews...

April 17, 2014

Holy Thursday: No, It Really Is

Also known as Covenant Thursday and Maundy Thursday, it's the actual Holy Thursday. Despite my weekly jab at my own lack of church attendance it has still roared its way here for those of you out there that choose to celebrate it. I've never actually attended mass today in the 25 years I've been alive, but I will admit that my favorite personal mass is that of Good Friday. Still, I haven't been at that one in years either. On Good Friday we have to kiss the feet of a crucifix in a communion-esque fashion. The last time I did this the priest accidentally moved the crucifix as I went down to kiss the feet and I almost lost my two front teeth.

Still, Holy Thursday is to help us remember the Last Supper. I'm sure all of you have seen the painting by Leonardo Da Vinci at some point in your life.  To me, the actual today along with Easter Sunday symbolizes a weekend of fun and feasting with our families and friends.

If not the painting, then surely the Tom Hanks movie.
Obviously if you're reading this or if you've ever read anything on this blog you have a habit of pairing some good brews with some snacks and other assorted foods on the holidays throughout the calendar year. I make an annual trek to Franklin, PA on Easter Sunday to spend time with family there. I remember when I first became of age to drink legally the beer of choice had been Heneiken in my uncle's stock. That's not too thrilling, but we always did have some interesting liquor. Distilled European assortments such as Absinthe (depending on your point of view) and whiskey from Ireland.

Aside from all of that, the beer selection has improved over the last few years. Last year I remember having a Schell's sampler. Some of you might run in fear from the corn, but I embrace it. Corn isn't that bad in beer! We've also had some Great Lakes variety packs at certain points.

I have cousins that live up in Erie that sometimes come down. I've been pushing to end up with some Derailed Cherry Ale for a good while now. Cheers to indulging in some Derailed. Also, cheers to your holiday weekend however you're celebrating.

April 15, 2014

Sweet and Sour

I ask you to remember back to the days when a parent or grandparent mixed you, siblings and/or friends a great batch of lemonade. Was it to sweet? Too sour? Just right? I guess that can still happen with a friend, significant other or even the choices mentioned above still today. I'm someone that likes that perfect balance in such a drink. I want the best of both worlds. I also look for the same when it comes to ciders.

I was recommended a few ciders over the weekend and reluctantly gave in. Unfortunately, I'm a very stubborn person. Sometimes that plays into my hands just as it sometimes doesn't . Surprisingly, I can go for  crisp glass of cider once in a while. I really enjoy coming across some bubbly textures in beers I try. I find that I get more of that texture when I drink some ciders.

To me, a good one has to have that perfect balance I mentioned earlier. Not too sweet. Not too sour. We do have Arsenal Cider House here in nearby Lawrenceville. I've only had two of their offerings - Fighting Elleck and Picket Bone Dry. Both are excellent. Tart, sweet and dry. Arsenal has a lot more that I haven't yet come across. Hauser Estate Winery in Adam's County provides us with Jack's Cider which is also another great cider choice.  This weekend left me pondering one question. Do those of us in the craft beer community accept ciders into the realm of craft? I've never really thought about nor actually spent time looking into it.
Gettysburg's Dobbin House Tavern is a bad place for photographing cider.
We've drawn some thick lines over the years when it comes to what's craft and what's not. An argument that's driven me nuts on this blog. I've always argued (maybe even ignored, but who really cares) that what tastes good can be craft. It really shouldn't matter.

Personally, I'd include cider in the craft category. It's all based on taste and personal preference and not what some association writes down on some important piece of paper. Yet, people still find ways to fight over such things. Just end the world now and spare me the stress.

April 11, 2014

Uniting of the Cynical Order

I feel like I go off on this subject around this time a year, but if you know me well you'll remember that there are few subjects that I don't ramble on about. I'll try to keep it under control, but you know me. I keep quite close to my own bloodlines.

The infamous Kentucky Breakfast Stout that hails from Michigan has finally made it's return. That is, finally for most of you. Not so much for me. Save-Mor Beer and Pop in Greenfield posted on its Facebook page that only about 90 cases from its wholesaler are in our market. That doesn't seem like a lot to me.
Sav-Mor has decided to hold a raffle to decide who gets first rights to purchase the cases it has received. I almost flew off the handle (as I usually do when KBS pandemonium hits Pittsburgh every year) until I read further and saw that they're donating the money made from the raffle tickets sold to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Luckily, I was able to take a deep breathe.

Have at it. I'll be dipping into my own collection or venturing to some pub to try something adventurous. All while the madness ensues. The pursuit of KBS. I can rest assured it will be mostly order at Save-Mor.

April 10, 2014

Holy Thursday: Homage

In preparations for yet another edition of my sarcastic Catholic ways, I noticed something on the calendar of one of my favorite craft beer pubs. A quick look at the Blue Dust event calendar will not only show you the upcoming Craft Beer Week events the bar has on the books for the Pittsburgh celebration, but something that's worth noting. An anniversary.

I would have told you that you were crazy if you would have told me that Blue Dust (or as us regulars call it "The Blue Dust" exactly like those idiots on Monday Night Football that hail from Ohio State or Miami) has been that cozy little craft pub in Homestead for five years on the 20th. I couldn't believe it, but that can also be because I haven't been of legal age to drink for as long as the place has existed.

Still, I always try to fit Blue Dust in whenever I can to pay some for of homage. After all, it was that bar that I've always credited with plunging me into this exploratory world of what is great beer. North Country Brewing Company in Slippery Rock was only a taste of what it could be. Discovering and frequenting Blue Dust helped this obsession to bloom. My visits to Blue Dust early on are probably the biggest reason of which led me to start recording my thoughts on this blog. Here I am two and a half years later.

I've always been able to try what ever I wanted when I've been there. They've usually shared my posts on this blog through their website and social media feeds. I'm eternally grateful for that place being my gateway to such an intricate and interesting world. Members of my own family would hate it, but I've probably spent more time trying new beers and interacting with other regulars than actually going to mass. Surprise, right? Still, Blue Dust is indeed holy ground.

Also, next Thursday is the actual Holy Thursday. So, I might have to cook up something extra sarcastic.

A beer flight at Blue Dust from way back.