July 7, 2014

The Session No. 89 Round-Up

The 89th edition of The Session has now come and gone. The topic I posed for this month's series of posts was Beer In History.
  • Derrick at Ramblings of a Beer Runner took quite an interesting stab at this by delving into the world of politics. He examined Democrats and Republicans that served in the Oval Office and discovered that Democratic Presidents were more likely to take up the bottle or mug than their Republican Counterparts. As a Republican myself, I found this intriguing.
  • Liam hailing from Drunken Speculation chose to continue a small series of his by telling more about a local brewery in Brisbane. This post featured a ton of great historical photographs. Be sure to check them out if you're into photography.
  • Glen over at Beer is Your Friend took the route of taking a peak at a national beer controversy over in Australia. Have we ever wondered or known who the first American brewer is/was? Maybe I'm just a dolt, but Glen provides the case for both parties.
  • Breandan from Belgian Smaak tells the story of how a Belgian brewery developed a "Champagne-Style Beer." We all know that mishaps are a part of the brewing process. Thus, the brewery that Breandan visited is named Malheur which is the work for misfortune in French. This beer sounded like something Dogfish Head here in the States would try.
  • The Beer Nut told a quick little tale of the transition of Porter to Lager in Ireland. I got the feeling that he'd rather have it still be Porter ruling the pubs of the land. Even in the heat of July here in America, I can honestly say a pint of Porter hits the spot. Still, the glass of lager he described still sounded appetizing despite his displeasure with it!
  • Phirx over at Beer in Nashville detailed the first-ever commercial brewery in the city of Nashville. The only thing missing in this post was a ribs pairing!
  • Sean Inman's post at Beer Search Party found a way to incorporate beer cans into this topic! He dug up some tidbits on the history and role of aluminum in the brewing process.. It wasn't always just for cans!
  • Thomas Cizauskas from Yours For Good Fermentables took one of the more in-depth looks in terms of going way back and filling in a lot of the blanks up until his ending. This post even included some quotes from a Baltimore area historian. Nice!
  • Jon Jefferson hailing from Misadventures in Strange Places remembered an older post when hearing of this topic. So, he tied it in with the birthday of the U.S. Marine Corps and how it might have started over a few colonial brews.
  • Alan's post from A Good Beer Blog can best be summed up with a quote - "Beer is neither benign or neutral but a powerful tool. That is what history teaches us. It can trace empires for us. Fortify a frontier. Collapse a region. Give hope. And bring despair."
  • Our friends Boak and Bailey examined an issue on a hop substitute when it came to Napoleon and beer for his troops. A very good question lies within.
  • Craig from Drink Drank took up my challenge and awoke from his Session slumber to participate in this series of posts. He tells us that beer has become a great measuring stick of how far society has come in a variety of factors.
I think that about wraps it up. I'm pretty sure I got everyone that sent me their link via the comment section on this blog of through Twitter. I sincerely thank everyone for their posts! I rarely admit I learned something new when it comes to history, but I can say that I my attention was held by all of these blog posts this month!

The next edition of the Session is the topic of Beer Fight Club and will be hosted by Jake aka Hipster Brewfus on August 1.

July 4, 2014

The Session No. 89: Beer in History

The Session is a monthly blogging project among the beer bloggers where the host chooses the topic in which the rest of the participants can write about. I took the load of hosting the July Session post here on my blog. I chose to involve one of my favorite topics, that being history, for this month's topic. I figured that it was quite fitting for many of us as the first Friday of this month is the Fourth of July.

Pennsylvania has a deep alcohol history. A lot of it dates back to the days of the American Revolution in the late 1700's. Some of it liquor and some of it beer. There have been many places I've been to to enjoy a festival, a meal as well as a beer with both of those great things! One of the things that attracted me to some of the places is the historical allure each of them have. Most importantly, each of them are in buildings that hold some form of a historical significance!

Part of my start into craft beer was while attending school in Slippery Rock, PA. Right on Main Street was North Country Brewing Company. This was back before we even used the term "craft" or "craft beer." If you didn't want to stoop low as to drink the usual American swill you went to North Country or as we called it, The Brewery. I still have many memories of downing pint after pint of Blue Bear E Fruit Ale and Squirrel Nut Brown.

What was the building prior to North Country brewing in it? It used to be a morgue! That made it fitting for that annual Halloween party. You knew I was getting to Gettysburg at some point in this post. That's where I'll be for the next few places.

Battlefield Brew Works just up the York Road outside of Gettysburg proper is one of my favorite brewpubs in the entire Commonwealth. The bar inside is crafted from trees that were grown on the farm's property when it actually used to be a farm. The establishment itself is completely inside an 1860's style Pennsylvania Dutch barn.

The Brew Works sits on what once was (or kind of still is) the Monfort Farm just outside of Gettysburg. At one point during and for some time after the Battle of Gettysburg the barn was used as a field hospital and is designated as such by a plate on a fireplace inside. I can honestly say that in my two plus years of doing things and recording some of them on this blog that this one was the most excited I have ever been to combine both beer and history. I can't wait to return next month.

A little closer to the heart of Gettysburg was the Blue and Gray Bar and Grill. This still resides in the town square of Gettysburg which is probably the most picturesque part of the town. The building itself has been there since before the two armies ever met there. If you go a ways down Baltimore Street to the South you run into a place that's been in Gettysburg since the times of the Revolution - The Dobbin House Tavern. There you can have 1700's style fare in the dining room or downstairs in the Springhouse Tavern. It's easy to find Jack's Hard Cider from the local Hauser Estate Winery here!

June 9, 2014

The Session No. 89 Announcement

In the words of Captain Barbosa in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, I've fulfilled my vow. At least, I've partially fulfilled it. I've come back to help get the ball rolling on the next edition of the Session. If you haven't yet had a chance to take in any of the posts from the most recent series of Session posts there is still plenty of time to read-up on the literature that was created just last week. Boak and Bailey hosted the June edition with the topic being beer mixing. You can see the round-up post right here.

When I posted on a more consistent basis I tried to incorporate history in as many posts as I could. I love history. There's just something about it. It's fun. It's interesting. It even gives me goosebumps. So, I only saw it to be fitting that I choose the topic of Beer in History.

Even better is the fact that the summer time is the main period of the calendar year that I absolutely delve into history. We just passed the 70th anniversary of the Invasion of Normandy (Many of you know it as D-Day or Operation Overlord). The latter portions of June mark the beginning of the Gettysburg campaign which culminates on July 3. The following date is obviously the Fourth of July here in the states.

At many points in history you can look back and find alcohol intertwined. A lot of times that form of alcohol is beer. Beer is something that connects us with the past, our forefathers as well as some of our ancestors. I want this topic to be a really open-ended one. So, it should be fairly easy to come up with something and participate.

If you were among any readers I had when I posted most of the time you have a very good idea of where I might be going with my post when the time comes. The same doesn't apply to you. Do you want to write about an important beer event with great historical significance? Famous figures that were brewers? Have you visited an establishment that has some awesome historic value? Maybe a historically-themed brewpub? I wouldn't be surprised to even see a few posts on Prohibition. It doesn't really matter when it comes to history!

So, we have just under a month. Friday July 4 is the date I will look forward to reading all of your posts on the topic of Beer in History. Just leave your post here in the comment section or you can hit me up on Twitter @billkostkas. I'm also aiming to have the round-up post finished by that following Monday. See you on the Fourth!

April 28, 2014


I think that when it comes to every blog on the internet there's that point where you have to say that's that. I think that time has drawn near for me on this blog. I've always said that if you could keep things under control you were. When something becomes an inconvenience or an issue. Then it's something to look at. I've always kept beer consumption under control and mainly restricted myself to drinking/sampling on weekends. Beer is not the problem when it comes to making this decision. It's time.

Since 2014 has began I've found saying each week that there's too much to do, but nowhere near enough time. Since I started posting on this blog during my last year of college I've made an effort to post four to I've times a week. That has dropped-off a bit since the turn of the calendar year. With the addition of writing for my cousin's radio show in California each Wednesday and preparations for writing a weekly article on a website he's working on. Also, I have a personal pact with myself to remain in shape by going to the gym multiple times a week. With all of that and the regular dealings of adult life I find myself sitting down to eat dinner around 9 p.m. on week nights after I get a post scheduled to pop up on here.

I've only been sick enough to ponder the possibility that I might die from it twice in my life. The first was September of 2011 when I first began posting on here. The second instance was this past weekend when I caught the fever from hell, shivered through half of the Penguins playoff game and had a severe pounding headache while my heart rate shot up dramatically. Saying I might have died is probably an exaggeration, but when you've never experienced a heart issue as such before your mind tends to wander. I shouldn't be putting things that aren't important in the grand scheme of things ahead of other important things in life such as my health and I've fallen into that crevice.

I feel like my crammed schedule has caused me excess stress and I feel like my experience this past weekend is a partial result of the lengths I've gone to get as much done as I can at the expense of over-working myself both physically and mentally. Some days I just want to come home from work and watch baseball. Posting has kind of deterred me from that. This is actually something I've thought about for the past three months or so, especially on those weeks in which I bothered to only get two blog posts up. Twitter is defined as a micro-blogging service and that's how I intend to express the random thoughts I have, beer included, from now on. So much easier as well as less time consuming and less stressful.

That being said, I've previously committed to hosting the July edition of The Session. I'll uphold that commitment as I think that's a good way to go out. Sharing the historical thoughts of others is a sort of pinnacle as the concept of history has always been one of my true loves. That Session post, the announcement as well as the round-up will be my last three posts on this blog. Speaking of historical moments, I'm almost positive that I've never posted twice on the same day in the near three years I've been posting here. This is possibly the first instance.

Cheers. You'll hear from me towards the end of June for my Session announcement.

Monday Rant: A Simple Equation

The general public keeps finding new ways to make life even more mind-numbing than it already is. I've always been for choosing to drink whatever beer you think tastes good. Still, there are those certain few out there that cause me to have that Lewis Black "remind myself to breathe moment.

My Beer is Skunked

I was at a bar just a few weeks ago with a cousin of mine and a friend. This guy next to me at the bar and kept ordering Coronas and also kept sending each of them back. He claimed that the third on was the third in a row that tasted skunked. Maybe I'm just a nosey prick, but this irked me. So, I leaned over to him and asked if I could give some advice on his current plight.

See, I've always been taught that when taking care of or storing beer you need to keep it out of the light as much as possible. This is why brewers have beer in dark brown or green bottles. This is in order to keep as much light as possible from getting in and possibly skunking your beer.

So, with that understood how can you possible be surprised that a beer brand whose entire marketing strategy is based on its clear glass bottle tasted skunked. Thus, I explained to this guy that the reason it tastes skunked is because of the bottle they put it in. His response was something dumbfounded. I remember it being something close to "Oh, I drink this all of the time man." It just didn't register with him. Suffice to say, I wanted the last 20 or so seconds of my life back.

My Beer is Too Warm

This past weekend I met some people out in Robinson at a place in which the beer selection was ultra disappointing for someone that's involved in the craft beer movement. I asked the waitress if anything fun was on draft. All I got back was Bud, Bud Light, Miller and Dos Equis. So exciting. I was forced to go with Dos Equis Amber. It was the least potent poison given what I had to choose from.

Someone in our group ordered the skunked special. You guessed it. The iconic Corona in the clear bottle. When it arrived the person claimed it was too warm. Now, getting a beer that's a little too warm isn't something that would bother me. Some beer's need to be at a higher temperature to accentuate the flavors in the beer. If a beer is too cold, you're covering up some of the flavors. You can't taste cold. You can only feel it! Now, think about this. If a beer can't even taste good when it's a bit warmer (when in theory a warmer beer should enable you to taste more of its flavors) then how can one claim it's good in any form? To me it's just a simple equation.

April 25, 2014

More than Alright - DuClaw Sweet Baby Jesus

You know that years ago when microbrews first started being referred to as craft beer or the craft beer movement you fantasized about a beer that reminded you of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. At least you most likely did if you didn't know of a brew pub that didn't dabble in that kind of thing already.

The peanut butter was extremely pungent in the aroma. It kind of hit me hard when I popped the bottle cap off. I went in a bit closer and abruptly proclaimed "Holy God!" I then read on the side of the bottle (I love bottles with little stories on them) and learned afterwards that the brewers yelled something similar upon finishing this brew for the first time and hence the thing's name.

Sweet Baby Jesus was very dark, roasty yet smooth. It actually played light once I started to drink it though. The peanut/peanut butter flavor isn't as pronounced in the taste. I really wanted to just toss a handful of Reese's Pieces in the glass. Still, this brew was like an already melted Reese's Cup. So happy that DuClaw now has beer in the Pittsburgh market.

"Jesus is just alright with me. Jesus is just alright, oh yeah." - Doobie Brothers in Jesus is Just Alright