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.

April 9, 2014

Beer Review: Coney Island Albino Python

Serving Type: Bottle

ABV: Six percent

Appearance: This brew poured a lightly-colored straw gold. Initially, it was a thin appearance except for the bright white head of foam. It was a thick layer of fluff that eventually caved in on itself and left some clumpy cake-like lacing on the glass innards. There was also a light haze in the body, but less than I expected prior to popping this bottle open. Still, I did notice a bit more as I poured the rest of the bottle out. It seemed to settle down towards the bottom of the bottle.

Smell: Very spicy and peppery. I picked up quite a few layers.  Lemon and a citrus zest as well as coriander and a little presence of yeast.

Taste: The first ave of flavor supplied me with some fruity lemon. This was a flavor that transitioned to something a little zestier on the way back. Not sour at all, which I loved. As everything got further back there was plenty of pepper and malt flavors with seemed to include coriander and some allspice. ON the finish there was a tad of mild hop notes.

Overall Rating:  photo RatingIcon1_zps0e61d2c9.png photo RatingIcon2_zpsff51de97.png photo RatingIcon3_zps6147479d.png photo RatingIcon4_zps8072c052.png photo RatingIcon5_zps6e4351aa.png

I found it very interesting to experience allspice in a lighter colored beer. I'm used to them in fall seasonal brews, but even if they are usually in lighter wits and hefe's I haven't been able to decipher any of it until this one. Beautiful color and zesty profile. This was a great drink.

Getting Closer - I mentione some number of weeks ago that I intended on changing up how I depict and review brews that I've tried on this blog. I still had to use up the photographs and beers that I've already taken notes on. I'm getting closer to exhausting that backlog of beers. Within a few weeks I should start to roll them out on here. Expect some different angles for the pictures. Maybe even a classic song lyric or movie quote that goes with said brews.

April 8, 2014

Hide Your Eyes

There's no hiding from the majority of big American brewing ad campaigns on television, unless you're one of the lucky ones without cable. Something tells me that I'd be a lot less cynical if I just did away with a good portion of television altogether. Just listen to the radio.

One thing that's good on radio is baseball. Especially with some crackles of static in between pitches. So, I might then be spared from viewing the big beer ads. I've thrown my fair share of tantrums on here when it has come to the very subject of beer advertisements. The Miller Lite ads with Pitbull. Do I need to continue? In the rare case some of them are actually alright. Take the new Budweiser ad for the start of baseball season.

I actually enjoyed this one. Baseball is a romantic and nostalgic game. It let's us hold on to memories easier than other sports. It's a longer journey. Such an emotional roller coaster when your team is in a pennant chase as I finally got a chance to take in last year.

Baseball is a game that promotes thinking and strategy. Especially in between pitches. A game in which it's actually relaxing to relay such scenarios and outcomes through your head when you watch it. Former Pirates broadcaster Lanny Frattare once said that as an announcer he needed to "Let the game breathe." Do yourself a favor and let the game breath this season. Also, pair the breathing with a fine ale. Go Bucs.