Two Tom's

There are two Tom's on (and in) Earth that I'm not a big fan of. Neither of them are allowed to read my blog. Thank you for your time.


Santos L. Halper's Dark Mild Ale

Yesterday was brew day at Earth and it was my turn to come up with the recipe. This is my first one so I hope it comes out well. We needed something we could put out quick so we did a real small mild - should be around 3.5% ABV. The base was all pale and pils 50/50, with some caramel, pale chocolate, and a little touch of smoked malt. We used East Kent Goldings exclusively, which were added at 60, 30, and 15 left in the boil. Gonna ferment it warm so, if all goes as planned, there will be a nice yeasty fruitiness mixed in with the sweet darker malts and the earthy hops. If all goes as planned.

We just tapped the Schuylkill Bitter the other day and it is freaking fantastic. 5.5% ABV so I guess it is kinda extra and a little bit special. As far as homebrewing is concerned, I'm still just too busy and broke to brew for now, but that will change real soon. I'm gonna just go nuts and do a few big batches I think. Old Ale? Barleywine? Big Ol' Belgian? Maybe even a big lager? Who knows.


Muckney Brewing Saison du Muqunee + What the Hell I've Been Doing

First off, Saison du Muqunee, brewed by the homebrewing homosexual duo of Justin and Dave. Good looking brew for sure. Cloudy straw gold with a nice white head that dissipates down to a collar but chills the whole glass. The aroma is really something else - spicy, ginger-esqe notes blend with a grainy, almost cereal backbone, with lots of underlying fruit - apple, pear, and maybe even peach. There is also a curry type smell which is real weird, but I dig it. The taste is wonderfully refreshing and easy drinking. Light fruits up front followed by some pepper and grass, with a long grainy, bitter, dry finish. Well fucking done kids!! I know this was your first all grain and I must say you killed it. Very clean with absolutely no flaws, perfect attenuation, and the yeast comes through flawlessly. Your best yet.

Secondly, what the hell have I been doing? The answer: working... like a motherfucker. But it's a lot of fun. For now we're not brewing too often, so mostly I'm the kitchen expediter. It's stressful but worth it. The restaurant is doing real well and the food is great. People are really responding to the beer as well. So far I've help Tom brew 3 batches. First was the Bradley Effect - a 3.8% ABV dark gruit. The advent of using hops in beer was not until the 17th century-ish (depending on where you lived), so to balance out the sweetness of the malts they used herbs. In this one we used yarrow, sweetgale, wild rosemary, and a bunch of others I can't remember. It's very interesting because not only is it tough to find a true gruit, I've never herd of a dark one. We brewed it with Doug whom, I doubt anyone remembers this, was behind Heavywight's Doug's Colonial Ale. The second batch is the Schuylkill Bitter which was originally to be an E.S.B., but we accidentally left a valve open on the brew kettle, so all the extra and special parts wound up on the floor. Tom blames me, I blame him, whatever. The last batch was O'nekrups Rebirth, later renamed Berkun's Finger (as in "hey, give me the finger"). It's a simple baltic porter based on Perkuno's Hammer only scaled back. All went well with brewing, and I can't wait for this one. It's aging with a lager yeast at 58 right now.

Damn, I went on and on. I need to blog more. I will try. Right now I'm drinking a 750 of 2005 Heavyweight Old Salty.. Thanks Tom. The beer here in Philly is unreal, as my ratebeer ratings will show. This is definitely a good beer drinking city, but goddamn it it is expensive. Well I'm done. I'm really gonna attempt to post more. Keep in touch, kids..


The Happening - You have been warned.

I know I said the blog is gonna be more beer focused, and I will be posting updates very soon on that, but I just had to warn all my friends.

I saw the new flick The Happening from M. Night Smilingman (I'll be damned if I'm attempting to spell his name), and let me just say it turned me into M. Night Frowningman. You want to know the twist? The big surprise ending? You kill yourself out of boredom.


We Made It..

Just to update - we made it. The move went well, just a bit longer than anticipated. Pretty much everything is unpacked now, we're getting settled in, and finally got the internet. The Comcast man was a mere 22 hours late for his appointment, and upon calling and bitching 7 times, I got $205.50 in credits. BOOM! Anyhoo, I'm still in training at Earth, and we're expecting to be open next week. Holy shit does the line-up look awesome! 4 house beers (mild, pale ale, biere de garde, rachbier), 8 guest taps (Victory, Sly Fox, One Guy, Dock Street, Philadelphia Brewing, Allagash and more), and a bunch of fantastic bottles which I've barely glimpsed. Food seems great, wine seems great, and Tom & Peggy are good people. I will keep the blog updated...


Top 7 Things I'm Going to Miss about Indiana PA

I was going to make it top 10, but I couldn't come up with 10 things I like about this town. Gee, I wonder why I'm moving.

7. Tandoor - Great Indian food at decent prices. I love the staff - they always crack me up. The menu is diversified, with choices from all different regions of India, including some of the best Rogan Josh I've ever had. And, hey, let's not forget the Peshwari Naan. Perfect.

6. Country Roads - City ain't got 'em, and I love 'em. Nothing better than a long peaceful drive through the mountains.

5. Yarnick's Farm Market - I love this place. Their produce is fresh and delicious, the prices fair, the staff friendly, the herb garden amazing and the corn is the best around. Don't forget the cheap beef liver, heart, and tongue!! 98 cents a pound for guts that good is unbelievable.

4. Our Apartment - Some of my best memories are in this place. I was really sad to say goodbye to it for the last time.

3. Capri Pizza - Best pizza in Indiana. I'm gonna miss the buffalo pizza terribly. They are the nicest guys, and they love making great pizza.

2. Commonplace Coffeehouse - Best coffee in Indiana. TJ is really passionate about coffee, and his product makes that very clear. From the clover to the ristretto shots of espresso, this place will be sorely missed.

1. Indiana PA Homebrewers Club - Best dudes in Indiana. You guys rock, and you are by far the ones I'm going to miss the most. Good luck with everything. I will be back for a meeting as soon as possible.


...I've been a lazy blogger. Sorry. But I'm back, and hopefully with a bit of a vengeance. First, and most importantly, we are finally moving. Tomorrow, actually. We're going to be living in West Mt. Airy, which is right next to Chestnut Hill in Philadelphia. We got a great apartment in a great area for a great deal with a great landlord. Secondly, this Monday I start training at Earth Bread + Brewery, which is on Germantown Ave in Philly. The owners are Tom & Peggy, formerly of Heavyweight brewing in Jersey. This could shape up to be a hell of an opportunity for me. Third, I haven't brewed in a long time, but plan on brewing much more extensively once in Philadelphia. I'm definitely starting the long and arduous journey into the world of wild yeasts. Look for some Flanders Reds, Oud Bruins, Lambics, sour Saisons, and much more. I will keep the blog updated on all that for sure.

I will be posting again real soon. If anyone comes down towards Philly and doesn't call me, I will be heartbroken.


Orion Saison - 3 Weeks Old

Dave, you were right. I am impatient with my homebrew. Oh well!

Nice, cloudy orange body with a thick, well sustaining white head. Good carbonation, and some nice lacing. Good looking! The aroma is crazy, with lots of herbal notes, lemon, pine, some mineral, and a surprising nice amount of funk. Good floral notes as well. The alcohol is a bit too present, but that will die in time, I hope. The taste is very floral and clean, with a dry, crisp, clean finish. Slight acidity, and a little funk. I'm thinking the funk will grow in time. The aftertaste is very irony and sulfur-y, with some rubber and band aid notes. Crap. Aside from that I'm really happy with it. Carbed up real well, which I'm very happy about. I'd say at least a month before it's ready to be "released".


St. Defibaugh Quad (and other updates..)

Late night brewing session tonight - pitched at 1:35 a.m. I'll make it quick - I changed up the recipe for this and did a partial mash based on the Westy 12 clone recipe in Beer Captured. O.G. 1.105. Caramunich, 2 Row, Crystal 10, Special B, Aromatic, Biscuit, and just a touch of Choclate malts, with some crystal and amber candi sugar. Very lightly hopped with some nobles. I pitched it on the cake of the Single, which was pitched on the cake of the Table Beer. This will probably be the last batch before we move, and when that finally happens, I think it may be time for some upgrades. All grain, wild yeast, 10 gallons.. good times.

Um, what else, let's see. I racked the Single (Juniper Abbey Pale Ale) to secondary tonight, and dry hopped it with 2 ounces of Perle. It's tasting great so far - very hoppy and fruity, and the juniper adds some nice balance and complexity. The F.G. was 1.005. Is that even possible? It started at 1.058 and finished lower than the table beer! Weird. Speaking of the table beer, it's in bottles now just waiting to carb up. The Saison, Tripel, and Special ale all need some time in the cellar.

Autumn and I are going to Philly Tuesday. She has an interview for an A&R position with Alonce Music Agency. Wish us luck!! If that works out, Philly here we come! I'm hoping I can pick up a few bottles down there, but something tells me time will be limited.

Be good everyone. Goodnight!


Bell's Hopslam

Hold the freaking presses - an IPA I like. There's 2 very important factors that Bell's got right in brewing this beer. First one, the hop character. It's not overly bitter or biting, but rather fruity, citric, floral and almost spicy. Peaches everywhere in the aroma and taste!! There's more to those little bastards than just bitter, and this beer showcases that fact. Secondly, the balance, in particular with the use of honey. It creates some beautifully sweet, subtle notes of figs, caramel, and dates. There's a great peppery spiciness, subtle chocolate, and the finish is not very hoppy at all, but rather sweet, borer-line cloying.

Hats off to Bell's for making one of my favorite hoppy beers. My one complaint is this - it smells like an IPA, but tastes like a barleywine.


What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

" Sister, sister, oh so fair, why is there blood all over your hair?"

I've been trying to keep the blog a little more beer focused lately, but I just had to post about this movie. Holy crap. This is an old classic I somehow missed starring Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. Bette Davis is absolutely phenomenal in this movie. She is in her zone! The plot is actually pretty clever, and the sarcastic, facetious dialog has a sense of humor that is way ahead of its time. Watching this movie, you feel like you are watching a modern day parody about modern day fame gone wrong, set in the 30's. Unbelievable. I was, honestly, stunned at how awesome this movie was. I recommend everyone throw it on their Netflix queue and bump that shit to the top.

Killer film.


2004 Dyed in the Wool Pinot Noir

Beautiful light purple body. Crystal clear. The aroma is strong raspberries and oak, with some cherries, blueberries, flowers, ozone, alcohol and astringent notes. Full oak taste with lots of great sour cherry, tart apple, some fig and date, honey, a nice peppery, almost spicy astringency, and lots of warming alcohol in the finish. A very good Noir for sure!!

St. Defibaugh Single

Brewed this bad boy Wednesday night. O.G. 1.058. Basically an abbey pale ale with tons of Juniper berries. 8 kinds of malt and 4 ounces of hops in the boil, with a pound and half of Turbinado sugar and some coriander. It was pitched onto the cake of the table beer, and it's bubbling away like mad! I'm gonna dry hop it with 2 ounces of Perle once it's in secondary. This was my second partial mash and I think it went well - much easier that I had originally anticipated. On the cake of this I'm throwing a big old Belgian dark/quad. For this whole trio of Belgian's I'm using Wyeast Forbidden Fruit which seems to be getting some great fruity esters. I'll post more on this project as it progresses..


Table Beer!!

It's brewed, in primary, and fermenting nicely. Pitched at about 11 o'clock Sunday evening and by
Monday afternoon at 8 it was bubbling away. This was my first counter-top partial mash, and it went surprisingly well. The best part was the cost cutting on the grains!! I wound up using 2 3/4 lbs grains (3/4 specialty) with 1 lbs of DME and a little over an ounce of hops. O.G. 1.031. Nice and low, I can't wait. I used Wyeast Forbidden Fruit for this, as well as some wheat, so it's going to have a nice wit-like refreshing quality. Once it's done fermenting, I'm throwing a pale ale on top of the cake. Basically I just did a giant starter. I'll post more once it's out of primary.

Oh, and the saison went into bottles Saturday. YES!! And, the honey ale finally carbed up. YES!!


A Dogfish Head Rant

This is long overdue. These thoughts have been weighing heavy on me lately, and it's time to vent. Before I do so, I need to go over the rules. First and foremost, pardon the language - if I curse, it means I'm being serious. Secondly, I'm a picky asshole, and if your thoughts don't reflect mine, chances are you're right and I'm wrong. And, finally, relax..

Hey, Dogfish Head, time to step your game up!! You have the resources, the technology, and the freaking cash, so let's get it popping!!

Your inconsistency is driving me mad. I can go to the store, buy 2 six packs of 60 Minute IPA, and they are going to taste completely different. An IPA is not a beer I want to taste differently from bottle to bottle. You go on and on about your fantastic quality control methods, but they just look pretty - I haven't noticed a goddamn difference in quality. These are some Dogfish Head Beers I've had that absolutely did not resemble a previous bottle: 60 and 90 Minute, Raison D'Etre, Indian Brown Ale, Olde School Barleywine, Aprihop, Pangaea, Midas Touch, Immort Ale, Zwaanendale, Au Courant and Chateau Jiahu. Beers that are consistent: 120 Minute, World Wide Stout (each vintage), Palo Santo Marron, Black and Blue and Chicory Stout. Notice the difference?

Taste the beers before you release them. I'm glad you experiment and have the balls to take risks, but sometimes I sip your beers and think "C'mon. What the hell, Dogfish Head?" A few cases in point. Black and Blue - you mean someone actually enjoyed drinking this sweet, syrupy mess? Au Courant (the new one) - My God what an awful beer! My mouth wanted to kill itself after attempting to get down more than two chugs of this nasty, fake tasting fruit beer. Raison D'Extra - Alright already, we get it. You can brew big beers!! Now let's make them taste good. This tasted like scotch that had been mixed with flat soda and stale rye bread. Pangaea - It's definitely cool you used an ingredient from each continent, but the end product tasted like weak sparkling apple juice.

Realize your potential. Do you understand what you've brewed with Festina Peche? I don't think you do. This is the ultimate crossover beer. There's not a single person, beer drinker or otherwise, who hasn't thoroughly enjoyed the taste of this beer. It's tart, refreshing, complex yet unoffensive, and most of all, delicious. Listen to me right now - make this year round and market it to the masses.

No disrespect intended. Dogfish Head is a really good brewery, I just needed to vent. While some of their experiments go horribly, horribly wrong, some fare well. I actually really like their hoppy beers (when the bottle is decent), and that's saying a lot. 60 Minute can be one of my favorite IPA's when it tastes good, and I love love love the Indian Brown Ale. Immort Ale, Palo Santo Marron, and World Wide Stout are some of the easiest drinking big beers made on this coast. And, again, I can't get enough Festina Peche.

Alright, I'm done. I hope no one's offended. Drink less, drink better, don't drink and drive, support your local brewery, all that jazz..


RIP George Carlin and Johnstown Brewing

One of my favorite comedians and a local brewery both died recently, and I would just like to pay my respects via blogdom. George, you will be sorely missed. Johnstown, sorry about your luck.


Oh Yeah. I Homebrew.

Upon looking through the blog I noticed I haven't posted anything about my homebrews since April. Time to fix that.

Batch 007 - Orion Saison. In secondary right now and has been for a little over two weeks. So far it tastes freaking fantastic - it's dry, herbal, spicy and acidic all at the same time. The yeast is really creating some funktastic flavors, and given the warm temp in our apartment lately, it's just gonna get funkier. OG on this was 1.065 and now it's down to 1.007. YES!! Gonna bottle this one up in about 4 more weeks I'm thinking.

Batch 006 - St. Defibaugh Special Ale - This has been in bottles for about 3 weeks and just starting to carb up. I'm really happy with how it tastes - it's like eating some incredibly sweet gingerbread cookies while smoking a clove cigarette. I give it 2 months before it's ready, 10 before it's at its peak.

Batch 005 - St. Defibaugh Tripel - Been in bottles for over a month and is well carbed. Just a few more "warm days" then it's off to the cellar for a month before I touch one. The oak came out great, all the spices in play, beautiful color, couldn't be happier. Will be peaking in about 18 months I'd say.

Still waiting to brew the holy trinity batches - table beer, followed by an abbey pale on that yeast cake, followed by a quad on that yeast cake - until finances are right. I could do it now, but I'd have to cut corners. In the words of the late, great Hunter S. Thompson, "If a thing's worth doing, it's worth doing right."


2004 Glades Pike Marechal Foch

Glades Pike is a pretty awesome place - good wine, good atmosphere, and good people. It's basically dead between Seven Springs and Somerset on Route 31. Autumn's sister is having her wedding reception there (the wedding is this Thursday - that's right, Thursday), so I figured I'd bust this dusty bottle out to "brush up".

I'm not much a wine kinda guy, but I know what I like. Dark, dry wines. This one is an absolutely beautiful burgundy purple that looks like the last rays of an autumn sunset (I'm trying to assume the snobby wino's stance right now, bear with me). The aroma is spicy and sweet with chocolate, grape (duh), and musky notes, creating the perfect background for the amazing dark fruit showcase - figs, plums, raisins, black currents and elderberries. The taste is complex and heavy, with loads of acidity. Very dark fruit focused - raspberries, blackberries, black cherries, plums and, well, grapes. Soft oak, vanilla, tobacco, and musky notes in the finish.

This, to me, is pretty much exactly what a wine should taste like. God do I love me a good Foch!! Not often do places around here make this varietal, but I'm glad Glades Pike does. They really do offer a stellar product for the area, and it's nice that they are willing to step out of the box and produce something this intense. It has aged beautifully, and I only wish I had a few more bottles to share with the crew.


Quickie Book Review

Here's some quick thoughts on a bunch of books I read lately.

Americana by Don DeLillo - Hated it. What a pointless piece of crap. He's obviously a gifted writer, but this book lost direction quicker than a blind man without a cane.

The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai - Fantastic. The story jumps between India and America flawlessly, and shows the struggle of all nations, all races, and all people simultaneously. Sometimes very funny, sometimes heartbreakingly sad, this is by all means a touching read. Her use of the English language is on par with some of the best writers in this country. I highly recommend this book to everyone! Read it now!

Tomcat in Love by Tim O'Brien - O'Brien is quite possibly my favorite current American author. Not only does he tell stories with amazing beauty and ease, but he truly understands how important it is to tell them. This book, while not as stirring or stunning as some of his more popular works (i.e. Going After Cacciato, The Things they Carried, In the Lake of the Woods), is a fun and easy read. Very well written, and one worth checking out.

What is the What by Dave Eggars - This book floored me. It's about one of the Lost Boys of Sudan and what he endured during that long civil war. I could go on for hours about this book, but I'll sum it up quickly. This book is an epic that spans many years. It's told with grace, humility and restraint. Eggers did a wonderful job portraying the hardship and turmoil these poor children went through. This book sticks with you long after you're done reading it. Highly recommended.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy - McCarthy could right about a steaming pile of dog crap and make me cry. He really is one of the masters of the English language. This book feels like a gift from him to you - you feel honored that he would even allow to glance at such beauty, such talent, and such emotion. This is very short (you can kill it in a day) and quite a page turner. His vision is complete, his scope breath-taking, and his writing is nothing short of pure brilliance. Read it now.

Lamb (The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal) by Christopher Moore - Frickin' hilarious. One of the funniest books I've ever read. It dragged towards the end, but all in all it was a really fun read. Moore actually wrote very tenderly about Jesus, and it was surprisingly not very sacrilegious at all. I can't wait to read his other books.


2003 Le Coq Imperial Stout

I've been saving this one for a special occasion and I figured tonight was the night. What's the occasion? I'm thirsty!

Rich, deep black body with no head at all. The aroma is incredibly alcoholic, backed by dark fruit, molasses, soy sauce, vinegar, chocolate and espresso notes. Brutally strong taste! Very malty and focused on the dark side of things - soy sauce, roasted malts, brown sugar, espresso, port, oak, bourbon, chocolate cake, fudge, and so much more. The lack of carbonation doesn't bother me in this brew. The flavors are so strong and intense that you have to sip it. This is really a fantastic imperial stout, and I hope to brew something along this line real soon. The black, thick, syrupy sweetness of Le Coq is really unmatched. In a world that's so crowded with stouts, this one stands out in the crowd.


Year Old Dogfish Head Festina Peche

Bottled 05/31/07. I've not had many Berliner Weissebiers, but I've always wanted to try more. When this was released last year I was freaking amped. One of the top 5 new brews I tried in 2007, hands down. The acidity was pleasant, the fruitiness was just right, and the finish was perfectly dry and sour. Beautiful. I wound up buying at least 8 4-packs (stupid, I know) and cherished every last one of them - except 3 which wound up in the cellar.

In the glass it is a sparkling gold with lots of fast moving carbonation and a bubbly white head. In the nose it's incredibly funky. Moldy cheese, earthy mushrooms, fruitiness, barnyard notes, and a host of other complexities I can't begin to describe. In the mouth, it's bubbly and effervescent, with clean, lemony acidity and tart citric undertones. The funkiness is intense!! The peach is all but gone, and I'm glad. Intensely dry and mouth-puckering sour finish. After a year, this has done what I hoped - became more acidic. Another year or two, and I'll be able to convince you that you're drinking Gueuze! Funky, funky, funky. I love wild yeast.

Side note: Tonight was productive. First, I racked the Orion Saison to secondary after over a month in primary. FG 1.011. Secondly, I bottled the St. Defibaugh Special Ale, which is tasting delicious. FG 1.018. Third, I cracked a St. Defibaugh Tripel, and while it taste good and all the flavors came through beautifully, it was just barely carbonated. I rolled the bottles around and moved them to a warmer area - hopefully that helps. That is all.


2004 Cantillon Lou Pepe Gueuze

Bottled in 2006, so I'm guessing it was blended in 2004. Clear, bubbly gold body with a very active white head. Looks like champagne!! Funky aroma - apple, spice, brett, oak, grape, honey, lemon and jasmine notes. Sweet and sour taste, with hints of lemon, orange, funky cheese, brett, and loads of acidity, with some honey and caramel notes balancing it out. Long lingering sour finish. Dry and still in the mouth. What a damn good Gueuze!!


Pints for Pets Brewfest

So I finally broke my beerfest cherry, and I had a damn good time doing it. Well organized, no real assholes (except Dave and Justin), and loads of good beer.

PA was well represented. East End was a standout for me. The Gose, while not yet carbonated, was great to try and a really unique drinking experience. The Monkey Boy Hefe was delicious, which is saying alot, since I normally hate wheat beers, and the Big Hop is always great. It was nice to see Voodoo there, and it seems their brews have improved since I first tried them. In particular, the Voodoo Love Child was outstanding. Elk Creek was one I'd never heard of, and not bad at all. I wasn't wowed by the IPA or stout, but the porter was AMAZING! Bullfrog's Single was a trip to try - funky and sweet and quite refreshing. Their Red Star Belgian Ale was also delicious. They seem to know what they're doing when it comes to the Belgians. Johnstown showed up with their new brewmaster, and while I didn't like the porter, the IPA was tasty tasty. It was great to try Abbey Wright's brews again, and the Scottish was the standout. Red Star's Coffee Porter was a bit of a dissapointment. And, as always, Church Brew Millennium Tripel is a treat. On top of that, Unibroue had a hell of a line up. Seigneuriale was really fun to drink, and the 17 wasn't too bad either. Dogfish Head's Fort is always great, but not more than a little bit.

The ride back is a bit of a blur.. I may have made a fool of myself, who knows. But, at least I don't look like these guys..

2004 Dogfish Head Immort Ale

Beautiful clear fire tones with a thin, bubbly off white head. Still lots of carbonation after 4 years. Strong scotch nose, with wood, vanilla, chocolate, fruity, caramel, tobacco, hazelnut, butterscotch and musty notes. The taste is very complex and intriguing. At first, the alcohol is very strong, with bourbon, oak, and tobacco notes. The next thing you notice is a powerful astringent like sweetness, with hints of caramel and chocolate. It finishes long and hot, with a fantastic fruity brightness that is similar do an oak-y Noir. Very interesting to see how this one aged. Fresh I thought it was a mess, and after 4 years, I still think it needs a little more time. I'll post on this one same time next year.


New Movie Quickie Review

Here's what I though of some new movies, like you care.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall - Loved it. One of the funniest films I've seen in a really long time. If you liked 40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up, see this one.

Awake - Waste of time. Good idea, terrible, terrible plot.

The Golden Compass - Expected a Narnia wannabe, got a Harry Potter wannabe. Skip it!

The Mist - Pure, total crap. Again, good idea, terrible, terrible plot.

Cloverfield - Fucking intense for sure. I thought it was really well done, and fun as hell to watch.

Dewey Cox - An all around hilarious slap stick comedy that is one great joke after another.

Things We Lost in the Fire - Fantastic. Benicio Del Toro is spellbinding, and the plot is rather touching.

One Missed Call - I thought this one was going to be awful. It was worse than expected.

P2 - Actually not too horrible. Some really boring parts, but definitely some good moments as well. Worth a try.


2005 Golden Monkey

Bottled May 5th, 2005. Looks a little lighter in color with a soapy, thin white head. Lots of slow moving carbonation. Crystal clear. Incredibly citric in the nose, with a beautiful peppery/floral background. Sweet, bubblegum, funky yeast notes. The taste is indescribable. It tastes like an authentic Abbey Tripel. Cloves, pepper, orange, lemon, bread, caramel, candi sugar, strawberries, and more. Amazingly complex, amazingly balanced, and amazingly delicious. This is one of my favorite brews to age. 3 years and I think it still could have gone for at least another 3 years. Further proof that with some beers, patience is a virtue.

Side note: I bottled my Tripel tonight. FG: 1.017. I'll be tasting one in 3 weeks to make sure it's carbing up nicely, then off to the cellar they go for 3 months. I'm looking forward to August..



Loads of stouts piled up at my house. Here's the skinny on what's in town..

Eel River Raven's Eye Imperial Stout - See below. Available at Ironwood.

Great Lakes Blackout Stout
- Deep mahogany. Rich and syrupy. Strong espresso and molasses flavors. Fun to drink, but very young and hot, with a strong bitter aftertaste. Of course, it needs some time in the cellar. Available at Uncle Sudsies.

Bell's Cherry Stout - Black as night with a dark brown head. At first his beer rubbed me wrong, but just recently I've been able to admit that I love it. The tart cherries remind of a distant lambic. They are balanced wonderfully by the sweet, roasty, and coffee malt flavors. Here's what I dig about this brew, and it took me a while to realize - it's aged. The base stout is obviously mellowed, and dark fruit/caramel flavors are developing. Add to that the tart cherries, and you have yourself a damn tasty brew. Available at Uncle Sudsies.

Weyerbacher Old Heathen
- Amazingly dark with a huge, frothy chocolate head. While this is not an over the top imperial stout, I like it because it's incredibly beefy. Rich, full, creamy, oily, slick, and velvety in the mouth. The flavors and aromas are straightforward stout, no ifs, ands, or buts about it. And damn is it tasty. I'm glad it's only 8.2% ABV. You can have a few without becoming an absolute fucking retard. Woo! Available at Uncle Sudsies.

Weyerbacher Heresy - One of my personal favorite oak aged stouts. Beautiful looking beer, with dark bourbon, alcohol, chocolate, and espresso aroma. As I mentioned in my review on ratebeer, what I really like about this is the way the oak is used. It's not overpowering at all. It blends and melds perfectly with the dark fruit and vinous flavors of the aged stout. A great brew, for sure.

Stone Imperial Russian Stout - Now this is a beefy stout. Incredibly heavy smell with strong espresso, chocolate, and, unfortunately, rubbing alcohol notes. The taste is surprisingly sweet. Chocolate, roasted malt, coffee, and anise with a great vinous background. It's very hot, and definitely could use some cellaring time. As a matter of fact, I have a bottle of every vintage back through 2005. I'm thinking 2010 is gonna be the year to try them all.

And, no, I didn't drink those all in one night. Peace.

Eel River

2 high grav brews from Eel River just recently became available in town, so I figured I'd post my thoughts.

Raven's Eye Imperial Stout
- This one was really interesting to try. The focus was strongly on the roasted malts, which made it very different. No crazy American hopping. No dark fruit or oxidized flavors. All malts - roasted, toasted, burnt and blackened. Balanced for what it is, and very unoffensive. It tasted like some coffee from the clover. Wouldn't want more than one in a sitting, and not one to age.

Triple Exultation
- Old Ale! Old Ale! The words themselves make my heart leap with joy. Just utter those two, simple, three letter words and you'll see a giant smile on my face. This one does not disappoint. Oftentimes you'll run into beers labeled as Old Ales that are really just Barelywines. Not this bad boy. This one is pure beef, malt and balls. Balance! Just the right amount of hops! Strong spicy sweet flavors with a full, creamy body. The alcohol warms your chest long after the beer is gone, and makes you want to curl up and sleep for hours. Age it - I'm going to.

Both are available at Ironwood and worth a try!


Fermentation Updates

I checked the gravity and tasted my 3 homebrews currently fermenting. Here's a breakdown.

St. Defibaugh Tripel

O.G. 1.096. Now it's at 1.017. Not bad. It's been sitting on oak chips for a little over a month now. Super spicy orange taste, with the oak only coming through in the mouthfeel. Fruity as all get out, with big caramel and bready notes.

St. Defibaugh Special Ale
O.G. 1.078. Now it's at 1.018. Again, not bad. Super sweet honey and clove taste, with strong ginger and spice notes. Creamy mouthfeel, with a long sweet and spicy finish. Crazy.

Orion Saison

O.G. 1.065. Now 1.044. One of my best friends Dan, who lives in Portland right now, had a kid the night this was brewed. His name, Robert Orion - hence Orion Saison. How about that color? The taste is very heavy on the tea/floral aspect. The yeast hasn't had time work it's magic yet, although the smell is definitely getting funky. I moved it to a warmer area in hopes of speeding up fermentation.


Summer Saison

Fuck it. I'm brewing a saison. Why not? It's the perfect beer for summer, and a style I love. I kinda came up with this crazy recipe on the fly..

Specialty Grains:
1/2 # Acid Malt
3/4 # Caravienne Malt
1/4# Crystal 10 Malt

5 # Extra Light DME
1 # Wheat DME
1 # Crystal Candi Sugar
1 oz. Spalt Pellets

@ 45 mins:
1/2 oz. Spalt pellets
1/2 oz. Challenger pellets

@ 50 mins:
1/4 tsp Grains of Paradise
1/2 tsp crushed Rosemary
Heather tips (undetermined amout)
1/8 tsp fresh Lemon Zest

@ 55 mins:
1/2 oz Spalt pellets
1 1/2 oz. Challenger pellets

WYeast #3724

Whatcha think? Any suggestions on using rosemary or heather?

Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris

I'll keep this one short and simple. Not bad, not great, but definitely worth a read. His depiction of office life is flawless, and the relationships the characters have with one another are very believable. But, it's just a bit too comic to be poignant. The chapter with Lynn is no doubt the best part of the book. Why is the rest of it not more like that? It does end very well, and leaves you on an upbeat, hilarious note.


Green Gables; Jolly Pumpkin Fuego del Otono; What to Brew?; Celebes Stout

Green Gables
What an awesome place. It's in Jennerstown, which is not too terribly far from Indiana, and well worth the drive. Walking up to the place, it kinda looks like a dilapidated old house - until you step inside. The atmosphere alone makes it worth the trip. You have to see it to believe it - very low lit and romantic, with a great old world feel. The menu is fantastic (we were there for brunch) and reasonably priced. I had the Grilled Pork Tenderloin topped with Maple Fingerlings and some kinda greens. It was slathered in a creamy blue cheese sauce, and accented with what they called a balsamic raisin puree. I could've eaten that puree all day. And the presentation was absolutely world class. Well done!

Afterwards we roamed the grounds, which is set on a man made lake. On the grounds there is also a play house, as well as cottages you can rent out. The landscape is breathtaking. You have to check this place out.. One of the best meals I've had in quite some time.

Jolly Pumpkin Fuego del Otono
Special thanks to Justin for picking this up for me. As you all know I love this brewery, and I need to go on yet another rant about why they are so awesome - inconsistency. Each bottle is different than the next, just like some particularly well respected Belgian brewers (Cantillon, Orval, etc..). This one tastes worlds apart from the last one I had. The smell is powerfully acidic with strong pear, apple, and even tangerine notes, but also quite spicy, with cloves and pepper. There is a ton of funk - stale bread, moldy cheese, spoiled juice, and a hint of wet dog - YUM. Beautifully bright and shiny in the mouth. Light, delicate flavors bounce across your tongue - apple, lemon, caramel, ginger, pepper, slight sulfur, iron, and nutty notes. Layers upon layers of vast, bold tastes, and (as I discovered last time) it's better with the dregs in it. Really brings out the complexity. Here he goes again - BEST BREWERY IN AMERICA.

What to Brew?
I need some suggestions or some help picking what to brew next. My brain has officially crapped out. No more thinking for me - it's your turn. I want it to be something sessionable for the warmer months. Pick one:

1. Saison
2. Altbier
3. Mild
4. Belgian Blonde or Pale Ale
5. Old Ale
6. Kolsch
7. Other? (You're call)

Let me know what you would be in the mood to drink at 9:30 AM on a summer Sunday, when it's 96 degrees outside, you haven't slept a wink, and you've just simply got nothing else to do except pound a sixer and hope that chases the boredom away for a few hours.

Celebes Stout
So this seemed to go over well at the last homebrew club meeting. I really appreciate the kind words that everyone said about it. Again, a huge thanks to TJ at Commonplace for supplying the coffee.
I love our little homebrew club. It's so nice to see people of all ages (I'm pretty sure I'm the youngest one - the black sheep, if you will) coming together over a shared passion - everyone there just simply loves beer, and the atmosphere is great. It meant a lot to me for people who have been brewing longer than I've been alive (well, that may be an exaggeration, but not a large one) to say that they enjoyed my beer. I was touched.

There was something else I wanted to rant and rave about, but of course I forgot. I bet I'll remember tomorrow. As for now, I'm finishing off this Jolly Pumpkin, then curling up in bed with a good book.


The Ruins

I saw this movie over the weekend, for some reason.. Why? To be honest, I don't know. But let me tell you - FUCK THIS MOVIE. For real. I can't believe I spent money to see this piece of trash. They should have paid me to watch it, not vice versa. I love a good cheesy horror flick, but this was just mindless droll. Never, ever, ever see this movie, not even if your life depends on it. The acting was just horrible and the plot was completely and utterly pointless. The movie had potential for about 2 minutes, but then it immediately started to suck balls. Big, sweaty, stinky, hairy, gross old man balls. This represents everything I hate about modern horror movies.
I can't stress this point enough...



A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon

Mark Haddon has a gift as a writer. His writing is so approachable, so thoughtful, so compassionate, but still highly readable and thought-provoking. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time was a touching and heartfelt book, and I really wanted to see what else the author had to offer. I was very excited when I spotted this at the bookstore.
A Spot of Bother tells the story of George Hall and his unique and hilarious family. One day George discovers a "spot of bother" - a lesion on his leg which he is absolutely convinced is cancerous. His daughter Katie is marrying the wrong man - Ray, his wife Jean is cheating on him with his ex-business partner - David, his son Jamie is in a torrid romantic love affair with another man - Tony, but all George can focus on is his lesion.
After the first boring 100 pages, the book really takes off, and hilarity ensues as the wedding progresses. The characters and their development steal the show, but it's as if the moral of the story they were all looking for was a bit lost and out of focus in the end. That said.. this is a really good book! Once it gets in its groove, the plot just twists on and on, and you wind up feeling as if you're one of the quirky Halls yourself - cheering at their victories and sympathizing at their losses. As the book progresses, the author really makes you love these characters, despite their growing list of faults.
This is a great book that everyone should read, but I can't help but feel disappointed seeing as how this was written by the guy who wrote The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time - a book that defied what I thought a novel could be. In the end though, this is a hilarious, well told, fun to read story, and I'm really glad I read it.


Honey Ale

Well I've been a lazy blogger, as I predicted I would be. I brewed my honey ale Saturday, and it went damn well. Lots of fun, as usual. It's bubbling away as I type.

Specialty Malts:
10 oz. Honey Malt
4 oz. Special B
2 oz. Aromatic
2 oz. Biscuit
2 oz. Caramunich

5 lbs Extra Light DME
3 lbs Wheat DME
1 1/2 oz. East Kent Goldings Hop Pellets
1/2 lbs Crystal Candi Sugar

@ 45:
1/2 oz Saaz Hop Pellets
1/2 oz Fuggle Hop Pellets
1/2 oz East Kent Goldings Hop Pellets
1/8 tsp Crushed Coriander

1 oz. East Kent Goldings Hop Pellets
1/2 oz. Fuggle Hop Pellets
1/2 oz Sweet Orange Peel

@ Flameout:
1/2 oz Ginger Root
1 1/2 lbs Orange Blossom Honey.

I'll keep ya'll updated. Have a good week..


Update: Exclesior Stout

Well I cracked a bottle of this tonight and it seems to be doing much better. Carbed up nicely, finally. The sweetness really died down, and it didn't give me a headache. I'm actually really happy with how this is drinking!

Thanks to Dave and Justin for letting me join in on brewing festivities- good beers, good people, good time. All in all, a good day.

Well, goodnight..


Victory Baltic Thunder

I should have known better than to get my hopes up thinking this would be Perkuno's Hammer. Of course it's not, and nothing ever will be. That brew is on a freaking pedestal for me. My first sip of the Hammer was life changing. I never knew a porter could be so awesome. That said, this beer is freaking fantastic. It's very reminiscent of Perkuno's Hammer, but just doesn't have the perfection that it did. Beautiful color. Wonderful sweet and roasty aroma. Full, creamy taste, but a bit over carbonated.

We've been very lucky lately in Indiana - 2 great Baltic Porters: this one and Otter Creek's Sea Otter. Oh, I love me a good Baltic Porter when it's done right. The lager crispness adds the perfect element to the porter profile, instead of just making it overly clean. Lagering a porter really plays well with the styles natural flavors, giving them a platform to shine on. The crispness is the stage, and the roasty, sweet, coffee flavors are the band. Better yet, the crispness is the rhythm for the band to get in to, to get on top of, and to get down with. The lager aspect is the beat, the ale aspect is the melody. Too metaphorical given the fact that I'm describing a beer? I'd say yes.

Ok, I'm done publicly making an ass of myself. My beer is not a band. My beer is tasty, and keeps me very warm. My beer is my friend. Is yours?


Evergreen Valley Vineyards 2002 Baco Noir Vintner's Reserve

Hmmm. Wine. Gotta admit I don't know jack about it. All I know is that I like it dark and dry, and this one fits the bill. Look at the color of that!! It's a super dark burgundy with the most beautiful purple hues. The smell is insatiably oaky, with sweet, fruity, and slightly acidic notes. Semi astringent, with big, bright aromas. The taste is absolutely out of this world. Super creamy, almost butterscotch notes with amazing orange and juniper hints. The barrel flavor is not as pronounced as it was in the nose, except in the finish, where it takes over with a puckering, lemony acidity that leaves a long, clean, dry finish. Easily one of the best Baco's I've had.

This place is awesome. It's a small joint nestled in a beautiful valley in Luthersburg, Pa. The folks there are fantastically nice, and truly genuine in their love for wine and the tradition behind it. All of their creations come from small batches, and are delicious. One of the coolest wineries in the area, and with arguably some the best wine around. I've been sitting on this bottle for about a year now. 2002 vintage huh? I was, um, 17 then. Don't tell anyone.

Wine is kinda strange to me. I dig some wines a whole bunch (Baco Noir, Marichal Foch, Cabernet Franc, Gew├╝rztraminer, to name a few), but for the most part they all taste the same to me. Maybe it's just my beginner's palate, but there's so much more complexity and possibility in the broad flavors and ingredients of beer than there is in wine. Don't get me wrong - I'm not an anti-wine kinda beer nerd. I just think the world of beer is so much larger than the world of wine - not any better or worse.


2006 Revisited - Allagash Dubbel & Heavyweight Perkuno's Hammer

Allagash Dubbel - This has been in my collection since early 2006. I'm really amazed with how well this one has aged, and I'm sad that this is my last bottle. Pours a deep brown with a rich, tan head. The aroma is intensely complex, with notes of chocolate, port, caramel, mint, toffee, plums and dates. The taste is fantastic, with huge dark fruit notes, combined with sweet chocolate and caramel, with a strong, dry, grainy finish. A great, authentic tasting Dubbel that ages like a champ.

Heavyweight Perkuno's Hammer - God do I miss Heavyweight. I mean, for real! They were always one of my favorite American breweries. Their beers were always so interesting and special, and focused much more on the malt, the yeast and the fermentation of beer, and not the crazy hops. I've had this since in my cellar since May of 2006, and thankfully have one bottle left, which I may save for my deathbed. Pours a still black with no head. Smells funky and sour, almost like a brett stout, with strong cherry and berry notes. The taste is heavy on the funk, with loads of complexity everywhere. Surprisingly carbonated, with lots of dark fruit notes and a port/sherry feel. Super clean and slick, with a long, sour, bitter, roasty, hell.. perfect aftertaste. I haven't had chance to try Baltic Thunder, but I can't wait. And, I'll be sure to check out Tom and Peggy's new place once it's up and running. I wish I had a case of every one of their beers left. .Brewing legends..

Espresso Part 2

How cool is this?

That's all.


Monster, The Big Lebowski, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Easily 3 of the greatest movies ever made, and I've been lucky enough to watch all of them in the last week.

Monster - What a freaking fantastic movie. It takes a truly special film to accomplish what this one does - it makes the unthinkable seem absolutely and 100% real. Somehow, in some magical way, you end up feeling sorry for and, if your a puss-bag like me, crying (just a little I swear) for a mass murdering lesbian whore. Her speech at the end is just heart wrenching. And how about Charlize Theron's performance? Holy God! One of the best performances of our time.

The Big Lebowski - It had been a while since I actually sat down and watched this movie. How fucking hilarious is this? This is one of the funniest movies I've ever seen! Jeff Bridges absolutely murders it, no questions asked, and John Goodman and Steve Buscemi are both stellar as well. Every time I see this film I laugh even harder. This is one of the few comedies from the 90's that has actually stood the test of time for me.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - Hands down one of the most clever and unique movies I've ever seen, with two phenomenal performances from Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet. This movie was produced with no special effects. Everything you see is just great camera work and directing. Such cool shots, interesting scenes, and mind numbing acting, not to mention a great story, make this one of my favorite dramas of all time. Every time I watch it, I catch about 20 things I'd never seen before. A masterpiece.


Holy Sheet!

Just when I think I'm getting good....

I thought this beer was good fresh, but entirely too hot. I thought it was just young. I thought a year would help it out. I thought wrong. Still drinkable after 13 months in the cellar, but still a mess. I'm all about supporting Clipper City - I think the Heavy Seas line is an often overlooked and underrated batch of brews - but it's time for them to step their game up to the next level. They obviously have the potential and skill to make great beer, but the next step is to conform to the ever changing market. Once this craft beer growth period dies down (it's going to, I swear it), brews like Oxford Raspberry, Balto-MarzHon, and McHenry are not going to cut it. They need more Loose Cannons, more Hang Tens, and more Red Sky at Nights. This is one of those many breweries that is on the verge of becoming a smash, but needs that extra something to get them there. I wish them well.



I was in at Commonplace for a while today and TJ hooked it up. I got to try 2 different espressos, and it was really cool to compare and contrast them. I never knew espresso could be so damn flavorful. It was like an explosion of taste in my mouth! Delicious. Mad props to TJ though, for real. After this, and the Celebes for the stout, I think I may owe him my left nut.

Muckney Brewing Batch XI Dark IPA

Justin & Dave (aka Muckney Brewing) brewed this bad boy. For being a hop hater, I've done nothing but praise hoppy beers on this blog. This one's no different. I love it. Fantastic color with a rich, froth beige head. Hoppy as all get out, but a wonderful strong roasty character to balance it all out. Freaking delicious guys. These two cats continue to blow my socks off. I really enjoyed the Dark & Mysterious Cinnamon Porter, surprisingly enough. You two just keep stepping it up. Can't wait to try the Red and, even more so, the RIS.

Sorry I missed the tasting tonight. I'm mostly apologizing to my taste buds. To be perfectly, 100% honest, I just wanted to spend a relaxing evening at home with Autumn. And I did. And it was just what I needed.


Eli's Steam & Imperial Amber

I cracked a few of Eli's homebrews this evening, and figured I'd give them a run down, as well as bash American styles for a while. These are 2 styles I normally don't enjoy, but both of Eli's were excellent, especially the Imperial Amber.

Steam - Spicy, piney nose with a hint of rubber. Very full mouthfeel, well carbonated. Earthy and bready malt notes with a nice smack of hop bitterness in the finish. Well done Eli, and to be honest it's the first Steam I've ever liked. I guess I just don't understand the style. Lager yeast at ale temperatures sounds fine and dandy, but it winds up tasting like nothing special. I think part of this has to do with my hatred of getting drunk. Sessionable styles of beer just don't appeal to me as much as they used to. I generally drink 2 beers at a time before my stomach starts getting all pissy, so I want those 2 to pack a punch. Now I gotta emphasize - I'm ranting about the style. I actually really liked Eli's.

Imperial Amber - Pours a beautiful, hazy burgundy with a strong beige head. This one has an awesome smell. Caramel and brown sugar immediately, followed by a fantastic spicy, citric, peppery and piney hop aroma. The flavor is just as on point as the smell. Super hoppy, but with underlying sticky sweet malts throughout, and a strong alcohol presence that is a welcome finish. Eli - I fucking love it. Call it an American Strong Ale and you've won Febtoberfest. Now let me bitch real quick. Imperial Amber. What I like about this style - Imperial. What I don't like - Amber. Regular amber beers just seem so boring to me anymore. I'll take this over any amber, any day of the week, no questions asked.

Well, Eli, I think it's safe to say you've moved for beyond the days of the EAssB. We'll just pretend that beer never happened. Killer job.

Ok I Have No Freaking Clue What a Blog Is

So, yeah, I'm kinda lost right now. Who are you people? What's a blog, anyways? I'm just gonna try this shit out, and I'll probably give up in roughly 2 weeks. Best case scenario, this will be a place for me to rant and rave beer and food and music and other things I give a crap about. But something tells me laziness will win.. again.

First order of business - I don't hate hops. I just hate when that's all you can taste in a beer. I figured the title "Confessions of a Hop Hater" would draw people in. In fact I'm drinking a Nugget Nectar right now, and I'm enjoying it. It's great! The more I drink this beer, the more I like it. Strong citrus and floral notes, but enough of a spicy, caramel malt and alcoholic heat to back it up. I think it was released a little too early, because right now it's drinking better than ever. Still not as good as that first batch of bottles though.. They still haunt my dreams.

Secondly - Charon Don. Listen to him. He's good. My friend Joe turned me on to him. I think he beats Wiz's skills by a long shot.

Third - I brewed tonight. Well first off, I racked my plain old American stout to secondary, and added 1 quart of coffee from a cold toddy, made out of a pound of Commonplace Celebes (thank you TJ). I got the inspiration from Nate's Commonplace Coffee Porter, which was, hands-down, the best coffee beer I've ever had. After that, I brewed a Tripel, which was loosely based on a St. Feuillien Tripel clone. Juniper berries, sweet orange peel, coriander seeds, and grains of paradise. Hell yeah! I forgot to add this last night - O.G. was 1.096. Holy shit, huh?

Fourth - Rochefort 8. My boy Karel shared a bottle of this with me tonight. It's been probably 4 years since I've had this beer, and I forgot something. It's the fucking bomb.

And finally - What the fuck am I doing? Has it come to this? BLOGGING? My god.. I never thought I'd see the day. First myspace, then facebook, now this nonsense. At this rate, I'll be blowing dudes for cash in less than 2 years. Eh - it is what it is, right?