Time for a break.

I'm done hating for a while. I may be back but for now it's all about the love.



Hey General Lafayette!!

I've been to most of the brewpubs in the area by now, and I think I can say that you are my favorite local brewpub. Congratulations!! I make this statement not just based on the beer, but also the food, atmosphere, and service. I'm glad to see lots of Belgians on at any given point. Last night there was a "berry lambic" on draft. Hell yeah!! It's so nice to see something like this brewed locally, and it was delicious. Also on was the Economizer, a 3.4% brew made from the second runnings on an IPA, which was dead on. Another thing that's great to see here - low ABV brews that are well made. Lafayette has the best house-made brews in the area I dare say. The building is fantastic and the ghost stories are even better. Ask any server and they will tell you one! The service is always great, except for last night which was the first time I've gotten bad service there. The bartender was rude and cold and probably said about 5 words to us. We went in just for dessert and it was excellent. Their food is always fresh, simple, well prepared, and most importantly, delicious!!

Oh yeah, and I'm brewing today. Just doing a 2.5 gallon batch to dip my feet in the proverbial all-grain waters. God knows how it's going to turn out. The base is 50/50 acidulated and pils malt. Like 5% aromatic and 1.5% chocolate went in as well. Lightly hopped (of course) though I may spice it. Golden Monkey yeast for primary, and hopefully I can keep it plenty warm.

That's all for now.


Bell's Batch 7000

After 3 1/2 years of aging this is now a beautiful beer. At first it was incredibly hot and painfully hoppy (200+ IBUs I think), almost undrinkable. Now it has the most fantastic chocolate, espresso, and brownie nose, with the fainest touch of cherries. No signs of oxidation yet but the alcohol aroma is nearly gone. One sip and my mind is blown. The flavor profile is very complex but incredibly welcoming, with chocolate, roasted malts, anise, molasses, cinnamon, soy sauce and subtly fruity notes. The heat from the alcohol is there, but in just the right amount. The finish is long and bittersweet with some nuttiness and oakiness. This is one of the most impressive beers I've had in a while, and a perfect example of what aging can do to a beer. If you have any, drink it up.


Iron Hill Phoenixville

We were in King of Prussia and didn't have a lot to do so we jumped on 422 and headed to Iron Hill in Phoenixville. They have a really nice location here overlooking the historic and scenic town. Inside is very chilled and relaxed. The tap list was great and style were all across the board. The standouts were their Saison, Tripel, Voodoo Lager and, in particular, Roggenbock, which was creamy, smooth, complex and drinkable. The food was a bit of a problem though. We got some dip, which was great, but the bread was teeth-breakingly hard. We also got some shrimp, which were delectable, but the rice on the side was simply not cooked the whole way through. All the flavors were great but it was dumb shit that kept us from really enjoying it. The beer was fantastic, the food not so much, but the service was good. I'm sure I'll be back.

Also, I forgot to add earlier, I got to try their 3 year old unblended lambic. It was really out of this world. Tons of acidic notes, with a long, dry, mouth-puckering finish. I wish they would've had bottles of this left.

I went home and polished off a 2005 bottle of their Old Ale, which was complex and fruity and interesting, but a bit past it's prime. I'm sure I'll be back.


The Grey Lodge Pub

Took a long (and interesting) drive up through the northeast Monday and wound up at Grey Lodge Pub. This is one of the top rated bars in the city and I've been dying to check it out. From the outside it's very unassuming and looks like a hole in the wall. Once inside though it's a nice and laid-back joint with comfortable seating and interior. It was very low key when we were there and service was top notch. From the beer to the food, and even the soda, I dig this place a lot. I wish it were in my back yard. The tap list was on point with tons of great locals, and the bottle list was interesting, well chosen, and reasonably priced, but kinda small. I had some Voodoo Gran Met (go Pittsburgh, sort of) and a Love Stout on the beer engine. The cask beer was served perfectly and reminded me how much I am Love Stout fan. The food was superb - french fries that were a mix of russet and sweet potatoes, perfectly fried, and with a great mayo, and shepherd's pie with lamb, beef, and vegetables, topped with mashed potatoes. All well priced, delicious, and incredibly filling. And, the icing on the cake, they had Pennsylvania Dutch Birch beer on draft. BANGING. I left there with a smile on my face. I can't wait to go to my first Friday the Firkinteenth.


Ich Bin Ein Imprssed!!

Anyone? Anyone? Anyways we had Nodding Head Ich Bin Ein Berliner Weisse at Earth and I was pumped to get to try another example of the style. Every Berline Weisse I've had was delicious and this one was no exception. Tart, funky, sour, well carbonated, incredibly quaffable, and coming in at only 3.5% - great, great stuff. Nodding Head makes some awesome beers and this one was the best I've had from them. Didn't like it as much with the woodruff syrup though...

I really hope I get to see some more Berliner Weissebiers in the near future. What a great style!!


Philly Beer Week - My God.

Tom and Peggy are the coolest bosses ever and gave me last night off, finally giving me a chance to really get out and enjoy Philly Beer Week, at least for one day. And what a day it was. I can't wait till this week next year.

First event we hit was Meet the Brewer with Tomme Arthur (from Port/Lost Abbey) at Capone's, which is easily one of my favorite joints in the area. The event started at 3, and by 4 when we rolled in the parking lot was full. We managed to get one of the last tables and got some beers and food while Tomme was busy chatting with the crowd. Ryan (from McKenzie Brewhouse) was there and joined us, and nerdy talk ensued. Got some chili and some wings, both good, neither great. The tap list while I was there was absolutely absurd. Weyerbacher Quad (3 years old), 13, Echo, Heresy, Slam Dunkel, Merry Monks and Hops Infusion, Oskar Blues Ten Fidy, Gordon, Old Chub, and Dave's Pale all whiskey barrel aged, 2 vintages of Old Dominion Millennium (2 year old one with brett and 5 year one without brett) Southampton RIS, Boris the Crusher, Rodenbach Grand Cru, and Port Hop 15. Jesus. Initially I ordered a 2 year old brett Millennium but I received the 5 year old. Oh well, still delicious. Went for a sampler afterward. Weyerbacher Echo was really good with a nice amount of rye and potent hops, 3 year old Quad was not oxidized at all and tasted like freaking bubblegum, Barrel Aged Gordon was surprisingly divine with enough complexity and smoothness to kill a horse, and the Southampton RIS was really interesting, very smokey and roasty.

I got to shoot the shit with Tomme for a few minutes - basically just hey I'm a big fan and congratulations, tried to start some conversation with him, but he got ushered by the bartender to another table full of nerds that were asking for him. I was expecting the event to be a lot less crowded and am completely blown away by the amount of beer loving folk there are in this city. Unexpected, and I will know to prepare next year. We ran into the same problem at the other event we attended.

Went home, grabbed a cat nap, then headed to South Philly for another Meet the Brewer event, this one with Rob Tod from Allagash, at For Pete's Sake. This was my first time there, set in the chill Queens Village. The place was packed! I really dig the spot, real laid back inside and good service. We just got dessert which was great, and I had 2 Allagash beers. Victoria, made with Chardonnay grapes, was delicate and delicious, and Black, a Belgian style stout, was roasty and fruity. Both of these beers, paired with black forest cake and raspberry almond pie, were the perfect nightcap.

Again, I only got to talk to Rob for a minute but he seems like a great guy. He was busy talking with other people, and I was getting tired, so we left. It was an honor to shake his hand. Allagash Tripel was the beer that turned me on to the world of Belgian beer. I'd had a few before, but this was the one that showed me how awesome beer could really be. Allagash was instrumental in my becoming a brewer, and was one of the brewers that taught me to love beer.

I'm floored by how much this city loves good beer, and how many people here truly appreciate beer for what it is. Ahh, what a nice city this Philadelphia is. I could get used to it here..


Jolly Pumpkin Fuego del Otono after 18 months..

Delicious. I can't say enough about this brewery. At first this beer didn't intrigue me too much, but now the funkiness has come out perfectly. Absolutely stunning looking beer. Brilliantly clear gold body with heavy fast moving carbonation. On top sits a big rich white head that leaves elegant lacing (see bottom picture). The aroma is acidic and tart, with lemons, fruit, spice, cheese, and loads of funk-osity. The taste is wild yet tame, funky yet approachable, and ridiculously complex. Spicy and sweet in the mouth, but it finishes dry as a bone with a long lemony aftertaste. The acidity is soft and balanced. I'm floored by how awesome this beer has become. With every sip I become a bigger JP fan. Best brewery in America, besides Earth of course.


07 Stone Imperial Russian Stout

Dark black with a thin beige head that dies down quickly. Wonderful molasses aroma with big hints of espresso, chocolate, dark fruits and anise. I could sniff on this bastard all night! Very balanced and complex flavor, clearly benefiting from 2 years in the hole. Cocoa, espresso, anise, chocolate, roasted malts, and a long soy sauce finish. This is a great beer to age and, honestly, could use a few more years.


Oh McMenamin's How I Love Thee..

I was planning on going out to Teresa's Next Door in Wayne yesterday but those plans got shat all over when we got hit with that crazy snowstorm. So we decided instead to get some lunch around here and I'm sure glad we did. We met John (Earth's greatest bartender) for some grub and brews at McMenamin's, which is quickly becoming one of my favorite bars in the city.

The tap list was quite possibly the best I've seen it there - Obamagang, Old Guardian, Cape Ann Brewing's Fisherman's Doppelbock, Bacchus Flanders Red, La Trappe Quad, Founder's Double Trouble and some other great stuff I can't even remember. I opted for a Bacchus, which was an interesting Flanders Red. Very sharp and acidic in the mouth, but finishing clean with no tartness at all. Just last week they had Duchesse De Bourgogne on tap. 2 Flanders Reds in a row, what more could you want!?

For lunch I had one of the specials, turkey croquettes, which were simply amazing. The turkey was tender and delicious, the sauce perfect, and the side salad, which consisted of baby greens, craisins, pine nuts, and bacon, incredible. I ordered an Obamagang with my meal and it was stellar stuff. Roasted and chocolate notes stole the show and were balanced out perfectly by the subtle but delicious fruity esters of that marvelous Belgian yeast. It was slick and oily and sublime.

Afterward we went home, attempted to watch What Just Happened? starring De Niro, and fell asleep 20 minutes into it cause it was just terrible... The perfect way to spend a day off.


Brooklyn Local 1

Cloudy dark straw body with a thin, beautiful white head that sticks around for the whole glass. Very nice lacing as well. The aroma is fruity, spicy and floral. Lots of apples and oranges, some pepper, and a bit of hoppiness. I wish I weren't feeling ill so I could actually smell it a little better. The taste is sharp and refined. It's crisp and clean, finishing dry and surprisingly refreshing. Very balanced and restrained fruity esters and hop bitterness. The spiciness is incredibly complex and keeps you sipping. This beer is dangerously drinkable - grab it up while you can. I really wish I got to see more Belgians from Garret cause this stuff is the fucking bomb.


My Time at Victory

I went to Downingtown with Tom yesterday to get some yeast for el Bat. I was only here once before, about 3 years ago, and never got to see the actual brewery. I was completely blown away by the size of this place! I never new Victory was so massively produced and distributed. The size and amount of freaking fermenters in that place was enough to get my beer nerd blood running for weeks. So much good beer!

We met with Dr. Tim and got Golden Monkey yeast for the table beer. Afterward he was nice to enough to let us sample a few beers. The Abbey 6 is currently on draft at the pub, and in my opinion is superior to the Abbey 8, which we currently have on draft at Earth. The 6 is cleaner, more drinkable, and tastes better overall, while the 8 has some strange notes to it that seem a bit off to me. Both are delicious though, and it nice to see them churning out some more Belgians.

Speaking of Belgians and their fantastic yeast, I was lucky enough to try WildDevil, HopDevil fermented with 100% brettanomyces. Young, about a month old, but awesome. The hop profile is delicious when lined up with the bright and dry wild yeast notes. This year's is definitely going to be a winner when released. I also got to try some other wacky wild beer that, while I'm not sure what it was, blew me away. It was still fermenting and tasted like cheese!! I don't think it was Helios.. Whatever. Love it.

As mentioned before I haven't been here in a while and I'm quite impressed with the renovations. It doesn't even look like the same joint!! There is a ton of seating now, the long bar is gone, and the new one is twice as long. Decor was awesome. I love the tun/kettle caps above the bar and big tables. I can't wait to get down here to eat. Before the place kinda felt like a factory but now it feels like a nice restaurant.

Thanks to Victory and Dr. Tim for letting me see the joint, and thanks to Tom for the opportunity. Incredible.


Take a walk on the wild side..

Tried 2 wild brews from 2 newer European breweries. Here's what I thought.

Mikkeller It's Alright! - Had the It's Alive! recently and really enjoyed it so I gave this one a shot. This is the opposite end of the brett spectrum - dry, earthy, horsey. It's very restrained and more akin to Orval than It's Alive! Easy to drink, but I wish it were more complex. Would be a fantastic session beer. I have nothing but good to say about Mikkeller.

Haandbryggeriet Haandbakk - Imperial Flanders Bruin. Hmm.. This was very interesting and highly complex, but it was a bit too much for my taste buds. The oak and fruit flavors were delicious, but the alcohol was too strong and the finish was very vinegar like. It's been a long time since I had an Oud Bruin and it's a style I wish I could have more of. It was refreshing to try a new school take on such an old school style. Can't wait to try more from the Hand Brewery!!

The Drafting Room (Exton)

Took a trip to the suburbs today and decided to check out The Drafting Room, which I've heard a lot of great things about. We went about 4:00 and were literally the only customers there. Nice place, real chill decor, and comfortable seating. The draft list was pretty damned excellent - 06 & 08 Double Bastard, 07 Stone RIS, Manayunk Festivus and some other goodies. I opted for the well aged 06 Double Bastard and refreshing Ommegang Witte. I was surprised to see some East End Gratitude bottles there. Where is this all coming from?

The food, on the other hand, was a bit of a disappointment. The crab soup with a bacon garnish was pretty good, but needed lots of salt. I had a burger, which was well cooked but I'm pretty sure it was a patty. Autumn went for the bottomless mussels and they were undercooked and filled with sand. We said something and it was unquestionably taken off of the bill which really says something about the place. The service, on the other hand, was stellar.

Overall this is a nice place to check out if you're ever in the area. Just down the road from TJ's, McKenzie and Victory. Makes for a great little pub crawl if you've got the time.


The Belgian Cafe

So I actually had a night off work Wednesday so we decided to head down to the Belgian Cafe at 21st and Green. I loved it. It was like Monk's without the crowd. Laid back and chill, this is one of the best joints I've been to in Philly. The beer list was exceptional, the tap list leaving nothing to be desired, and the food stellar. The decor was a bit cheesy, with some of faggity art, but I really like the long layout on the corner. Service was stellar. I had Stoudt's Old Abominable and Barbar Winter Bock, both of which were tasty and reasonably priced. The food (frites, mussel soup, scallops and chicken tenders) was delicious and cheap. I really enjoyed my time there and I recommend this place to everyone. Go!!


Avery Fifteen

Figs? Hibiscus? White pepper? Brett? Well call me a crayon and color me tickled pink! Cloudy orange gold body with a nice, thin white head. Crazy, funky aroma with lots of complexity, tons of trash and nastiness, stinky feet, blue cheese and much more. Oh the wonders of brett. The flavor is incredibly dry, amazingly funky, and intensely complex. Grass, hay, flowers, spice, ginger, and cloves. Absurdly good. By far the best Avery beer I've had to date. Typically I am not fan, other than a few seasonals and one-offs, of their beers, but this is surely a stand out. LONG LIVE BRETT!!!!!!!


It's Alive!!!

Once you go brett, you never go back.

I picked up a bottle of It's Alive! brewed by Mikkeller at De Proef. The label says nothing aside from the name, abv, size and "Belgian Wild Ale." I'm in. This is Mikkeller's tribute, of sorts, to Orval. Cloudy copper body with a thin tan head. Tons of lacing and the head lasts forever. Crazy smell. Chocolate and raisins collide with hay, grass, and crazy saison funk. I get a lot of perfumy notes as well as some cherries and berries. The taste is funky, crisp and dry with enough complexity to render me speechless. The brett is out of control in here and I love it. Crazy finish that lingers forever. A lot heavier on the funk than Orval, but freaking delicious nonetheless. Mikkeller is one of my favorite of the new school Belgian brewers that I've had that pleasure of trying, and this beer is another winner.

East End at Capone's

Stopped at Capone's or lunch today and they had 2 East End brews on tap. Good to see it all the way out east! First was the kvass, a Russian style bread beer, that was hands down one of the most interesting new beers I've had in a while. Sharp, sour, and funky, with some caramel and caraway notes. Really drinkable and incredibly thirst quenching. The other was his Cherry stout, a dry stout made with fresh cherries. Smoky, roasty, and fruity, this was definitely a phenomenally quaffable stout. Well done Scott. It's great to see your beers in this area, and I'm hoping to see more.



I don't have a lot of time but I need to address the comments on my last post. I had no idea that anyone was actually reading this crappy blog of mine. If I would've known that someone other than a few of my close friends were going to read this, I never would've posted anything bad about any brewer on here. I was simply using this as a way to share my thoughts when I'm bored. I had no intentions of disrespecting anyone, and I wish to extend my deepest apologies for crossing the line. Again, I thought that no one was really going to give a shit about my opinions. Yes I'm an amateur, new to this business, and really don't know what I'm talking about yet, but I have my opinions. From here on out I will keep them to myself.

Once more, Guy, and everyone else, I'm sorry. I feel very lucky to be even slightly involved in this community. Everyone I've met so far is great, and I want to do nothing but help them. I appreciate everyone responding so quick to let me know what a jackass I was being, but if I would've known that Guy, Lew, "Mr. C", or anyone else of any sort of importance in the community were to read this, I never would've posted those comments.


Top 10 Books I Read in 2008

10. The Yiddish Policeman's Union by Michael Chabon - My first Michael Chabon novel and it was a riot. Fun and easy to read, but with lots of heady, satirical undertones. Set in the fictional Jewish community of Sitka, Alaska, this book is a straight up whodunit in the most bizarre fashion. Look for the feature film directed by the Coen Brothers in 2010.

9. Tomcat in Love by Tim O'Brien - Tim is one of my favorite current American authors. 3 of his works grace my personal top 10 books ever, and while this isn't one of them, this is still a great read. Completely different than his other works, this is a very light and easy novel, displaying only the smallest hint of dark, intense prose I most often associate him with.

8. Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri - This was the first book from one of the most gifted current Indian authors. While her follow up works aren't as good, this is a fantastic collection of short stories that is appealing to everyone. All the stories have the similar vibe of being a person misplaced, lost and lonely. Fantastic stuff.

7. Giovanni's Gift by Bradford Morrow - Bradford's prose is really unbelievable. His powers of description of heavy, hidden emotions is top notch. This is a mystery novel, but very deep and dark. It is more a mystery of man's soul than a whodunit. Sometimes you just have to put the book down and marvel and what a great job he's done of completely blowing your mind with his sheer talent. My only complaint is the ending, but that doesn't keep me from recommending it. Some of the best deep, intense writing I've read in a while.

6. The Road by Cormac McCarthy - 2008 was the year of McCarthy for me. This is by far his darkest novel yet, and his simple, sparse, savage prose is second to none. His writing is powerful yet gentle, modern yet timeless, and all together his work is some of the best in the whole of American history. This book is about a father and son desperately trying to survive in post-apocalyptic America. Look for the movie this year.

5. What Is the What by Dave Eggars - This is the the almost-true story of one of the Lost Boys of Sudan. This is one of the most touching and heart-wrenching novels I've ever encountered. Eggars takes this young man's experience and puts it on a level we can all understand. I can't say enough about the honesty in the writing, and the incredible, undying sense of hope. A must read.

4. The Crossing by Cormac McCarthy - I really hesitated putting two books from the same author on here, but I just couldn't help it. The is the ultimate wild west novel, easily my favorite McCarthy novel yet. I feel safe to say that no one in the whole collection of American writing has ever contained the descriptive powers that McCarthy has. You have never encountered a force like McCarthy.

A note about the top 3. It was really difficult for me to choose the order for these. They are practically interchangeable with each other, and are all must reads.

3. Suite Francoise by Irene Nemirovsky - Nemirovsky was a popular French author in the 30's and 40's. She was also a Jew. She was taken by the Nazis and passed away in Auschwitz. 64 years after her death they found this novel - the first two parts of a five part series. She died without being able to complete the last 3. This is a novel about the German invasion in France. It deals not only with the horror, but also the mundane. It deals with the years when the men where gone, and the women lived with the Germans. The story is one of the most important ever told about World War 2. The translation is amazing, and the writing is top notch. This book is just so powerful, and so necessary to read, and so very crucial to anyone interested in the long term effects of war on the individual level.

2. The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai - This is a simple, short, powerful novel about one Indian family's struggle with despair, displacement, and poverty. Perfectly executed and thought out, this is the best novel I've read in a long time that deals with being a foreigner, even in your own home. Desai displays such affection and warmth, such heart and soul, such incredible love for her characters and her land, that you will not be able to put this book down. Astonishing.

1. The Known World by Edward P. Jones - At the risk of fouling the name of many great classics, this is hands down the single greatest piece of fiction written on the subject of slavery. This is an immense, breath taking novel that is so broad, so deep, and so moving that it never really leaves you. The characters in the novel are perfectly thought out and complex while still being lovable people we feel related to. The people in and about the plantation, by the end, are your family and friends. The writing is phenomenal, the story grand and the overall effect is nothing less than astonishing. I will never forget this book.


Eyedz uv MRCH

Muckney Brewing - Ides of March.

Great looking beer. Deep, dark, brutally black with a strong tan head that leaves plentiful lacing. Nice roasty smell with lots of alcohol heat and an interesting spiciness. I get some cinnamon mixed in with chocolate, coffee, molasses, maple syrup and subtle fruitiness. The taste has lots of espresso and chocolate, with simple but tasty roasted malt notes and piny hops. Very full, creamy mouthfeel.

One note, this year guys, turn it up. More roasted malts. More black malts. More alcohol. Hell, lots more bittering hops. This brew is clean as shit and fantastically crafted, but it's just shy of making me cream my pants. All the flavors are there, and goddamn are they great, but take it to the next level. Make it kick my ass, alright?

I love ya'll and can't wait to see you in a few weeks. You best have brews for me, alright? Gonna try the QB soon (maybe tonight) and will post my thoughts. Muckney Brewing? More like Fuck Me Brewing.

Side note: We are brewing a big ol' organic pilsner tomorrow at Earth. Ober Spliner. Should have some for the meeting. Scotch on now and it is damn good.


What's Hoppening at Earth

You goddamn nerds and your goddamn hoppy beers. You don't know how many times I've heard "give me your hoppiest beer" said to one of our servers. My response is "Fuck that!" but Baker, ever the business savvy man, gives the people what they want. Hops, hops, and more hops. 5 DIPAs on tap right now, and as you can guess, it's my personal version of utter hell. No that's not quite true, he picked some good ones, but it still makes me want to quit.

Sly Fox Odyssey - Hated it. Straight balls to the wall bitter with no attempt made to balance it out. No hop subtleties, no malty backbone, just plain old fucking bitter.

Victory Hop Wallop - Not bad, but not as good as previous years. They toned back on the aroma hops and threw in more bittering, or so it would seem to me. Maybe my palate is just too biased and tinged with smoke anymore. Nice pine and citric notes, but again just too bitter with no balance.

Lancaster Hop Hog
- Delicious. Every once in a while (and if you mention this to anyone I will kill you in your sleep) I get in the mood for a hoppy beer, and normally this is the one I grab. It's simple, easy to drink, balanced, and flavorful. My only complaint is that the hop flavor seems kinda one dimensional. Not that that dimension is a bad one, I just want a few more.

Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye - Hated it. Bitter with no balance. Taste like it's stripping the enamel off my teeth. Rye? Where? I would be a happy man if I never drank this crap again.

Russian River Pliney the Elder - This is exactly what the fuck I'm talking about when I say a good, balanced IPA. The malts are not only strong, they are flavorful and complex with caramel, bread, honey, and maybe even some chocolate. Clearly, the hops steal the show and are perfectly used. Not a single bit of bitterness strikes me as I was afraid. Instead, I got gobs of juicy peaches and grapefruits strewn upon my taste buds and I love it. This shows what a west coast IPA can be if the brewer is knowledgeable and understands how to achieve perfect balance. Go Vinnie. Go Russian River. Go Earth.


What the hell is in my bottle?

So last night I popped a bottle of what was supposed to be 4 year old Stickenjab, assuming it was going to be crap. When I poured it, it was a lot darker than I remember Stickenjab being. I shrugged it off, and then took a sniff. WHOA. Definitely not an alt! The aroma was complex, estery, funky, spicy and so much more. Cranberries, cherries, ginger, coriander, cloves, pepper, honey, peach, and lots of acidity. The taste of this beast was pure delight. Sour, sharp, and funky, with strong estery fruit notes, spicy yeastiness, and a long tart finish. What the hell is in my bottle? Fucking unbelievable stuff for real! I was damn surprised, and hopefully Tom can answer my question tonight.

UPDATE: Upon discussion with Peggy, I believe it was the Two Druids Gruit Ale. So, if you ever encounter a bottle of it in your travels you should buy it, drink it, and love it.


Going All Grain

We cleaned out the basement yesterday at Earth, and upon doing so we discovered an entire all grain set up. Tom's. And it's now mine. That's right, not only am I going all grain, I'm doing it on the equipment Mr. Heavyweight started with.

I hope it's not cursed. I think my first all grain is going to be a brett porter - Perkuno's Funky G-String.


Penelope Funk Dot Com Slash Surgery Time

Fucking cats, man. We have 5 of them now, 4 of which - Ginger, Cassie, Jemima, and Sonic - are perfectly healthy. But the fifth one, little Penelope, developed a giant freaky growth in her mouth. Of course it would happen to my favorite, the one that adores me, the world's most perfect, nicest, and thoroughly well behaved cat.

Penny is kinda dumb and has a tenancy to chill with her mouth gaping wide open, which is what she was doing one day when Autumn noticed this giant bubble looking growth under the left side of her tongue. It was really fucking disgusting so we took her to the Mt. Airy Animal Hospital. I will never go back there again. Upon doing some research online I discovered it's what's a ranula. I mention this to the Animal Hospital and they looked at me like I was a nut bag. They said they could fix it, did a $400 surgery to remove it, and a week later it came back. Bullshit. I got taken for a ride hard.

When I called them back they said it should just die down, which it never did. All the while, Penny kept getting worse and worse. She could barley eat and drink, couldn't swallow at all, and hardly moved. She lost 4 1/2 pounds! It was scary to see her that unhealthy..

We wound up having to take her to a specialist, about an hour away, who knew exactly what it was - a ranula. A cat's salivary gland is up in it's jaw, and there's a tube that runs the saliva to a fine little duct in the mouth. Something caused trauma to that duct, which resulted in the gigantic bubble. They had to go into her jaw and physically remove the salivary gland! After that, they cut a hole in the ranula and sewed it to make it permanent, so that it would drain and eventually disappear.

Penny is home and happier than she's been in a long time. She's running around and playing with everyone, and she won't leave me alone. I'm super relieved to have her back! But, in times of economic recession like these, one has to ask one's self, "Did I really just spend $1733 on a cat?" Yes, dumbass, you did.


Weekend in Killadelphia

Nate came up (or down) for a visit this weekend, and it wound up being hedonistic and very beer filled for me. Good times, albeit not all remembered. We started our evening at Earth, where Nate chilled being a nerd and I worked. Had a few brews there before heading off to McMenamin's down the street. It was pretty bumping there but the tap list was on point. I had a Mad Elf, Orval, St. Bernardus Christmas, and a dozen fantastic hot wings. Drinking, eating, and mingling with the locals - what more could you want?

Next day we were off to Manayunk Brewing, which was a much better visit than my first time there. The beers were nothing stellar, but they weren't too bad either. Couple standard lagers/ales, but a few standouts. My favorite was the Double Down Brown, a coffee brown ale. Normally I don't like brown ales, but this one was pretty damned good. Schuylkill Punch, a tart raspberry lager, is always pretty delicious, though most disagree with me. Unfortunately, they had a beer called Festivus, a dark Belgian ale, and it was downright disgusting. Pure crap, couldn't believe it. The pizza I got was alright, and Nate's salad looked nice.

Nate headed back East, and I headed downtown with Autumn and Joe. We met our friend Mike at Nodding Head, the first time I've been there. I was thoroughly impressed. The place itself is cozy and comfortable, great for just hanging out. I got to meet the brewers and they are both cool folk with some nice equipment. 8 fermenters - you bastards. The 5 beers they had were very good I thought. The best of the bunch was Rudy's Kung-Fu Grip, a dark Belgian. Estery and fruity, but controlled and balanced. It was nice to see a 60 Schilling, a tough to come by style of low proof Scottish ale. What really impressed me was the fact that all the beers were clean with no infections or flaws. As far as brewing technique is concerned, they are at the top of their game. The food was also fantastic. Our frites were delicious, as was the baked brie and fried sampler platter. This is one of the best places I've been to in Philly yet.

The sun was down, my stomach was full, my eyes heavy. Went home and finished of the night with some Family Feud and a bottle of Unibroue 17. Good times.


What I Like About Mt. Scary

So we've been here 3 months and I haven't posted shit really about the neighborhood. Mt. Airy is a diverse, middle class, and closely knit community in Northwest Philly. There's not a whole lot to do around here, but what exists is really pretty top notch. I expect the area to blow up real soon. It's seems like it's becoming a hip destination for folks looking to escape the madness of downtown.

We have 2 of the best coffee shops I've ever visited within walking distance - Infusions and High Point Cafe (no website). Infusions offers beans from 3 different local independent roasters. Their beans are always fresh, and occasionally they can pull a pretty fantastic shot. High Point Cafe's beans, while delicious and perfectly roasted, come from Seattle. Their espresso is some of the best I've had in Philly, and their baked goods are fantastic.

High Point is right across the street from Weaver's Way Co-op, a community run independent food store. They own their own farm, and to be a member you must donate and volunteer 6 hours yearly. All the produce is fresh and delicious, they have lots of great fish, homemade soups, fantastic cold salads, great cheese, and lots more. It's very refreshing to see a true, community ran co-op.

Food wise there are some great options. (Insert Earth plug here.) McMenamin's (no website) is a great local bar/restaurant. The food is always fresh, delicious, and well cooked, and the beer selection is stellar. Always rotating taps with lots of goodies, including at least one Belgian at any given point. The bottle selection is small but good, and very reasonably priced. Another great food joint here is called Tiffin, a small but unbelievably good Indian place. Consistently rate the best in Philly, their food is top notch, service is stellar, and prices and unbeatable. I also have to shout out to Chef Ken's Cafe (no website). Ken is always serving great, down home style soul food with lots of flavor. A little pricey, but always worth it.

Last but not least I gotta mention TLA video. Best selection of movies to rent I've ever seen. Old films, foreign films, classic films, indie films, horror films, even gay films, they have it all. Thank God for this place.

In short, I like Mt. Airy. It's pretty alright here. Happy New Years everyone.