Thursday, October 20, 2011

Hebrew Jewbilation 14

Let me tell you a short story about my introduction to Hebrew. I was staying down in Raleigh North Carolina at my Uncle's house. He had invited his brother, my father, and I down to join him for Beer Magazine's World Beer Festival. This point in my life the largest beer festival I had been to was the microbrewery festival at Penn Brewery. I was not prepared for what I was about to witness. In the center of downtown Raleigh a large park was lined with tents. The eight foot tables were lined up butt up against each other two rows in each tent one brewer at each table. Brewers from each corner of the world US, Belgium, Japan, Germany, and back to the US again, not to mention damn near every place in between. Where to begin? I stepped up to the first table I saw. On it hung a simple banner for Schmaltz Brewery out of New York. They had samples of Hebrew, a sub band of theirs. I had my first sample of the day, Origin pomegranate ale. I must say that this small brewery with a penchant for Semitic jokes was a wonderful start to the day.

Schmaltz has released Jewbilation their chosen beer. It's somewhat similar to a barlywine in that it's a big beer, 14%ABV brig, and lots of strong flavor. This beer could almost be treated like a cask strength bourbon, but I would not want to water this down I want to taste the grandeur of this fine brew. This fine brew is made with 14 different kind of hops and 14 kinds of barley. Complex is an oversimplification. Upon first ease you get hit with chocolate, coffee, and molasses malt like you wouldn't believe and a nice alcohol burn on the sides of the tounge. As you feel it pass across the rest of your ease buds you pick up plum, butterscotch, bourbon, oak, vanilla, and slight hints of citrus mainly lemon. I could spend days describing the flavors that come through but I need to stop for a moment to describe the look. I have stated before I don't generally go on about the look of a beer, but I'll be damned if this didn't look just like someone pulled a giant shot of espresso. Lots of lacing is left on the glass after each sip.

I must say that this is one beer that you must be on the lookout for. Not just because it's a great drink, but because every year the formula changes. Each year the number increments and the recipe changes. Pick up a couple bottles of this. One to drink now, and the rest to seller until you can compare it to the future incarnations.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Big Hop Harvest

Ok I mentioned this semi retail event thing that happened a little while ago. While I had some of the Chicory Red the real star of this show was the Big Hop Harvest.

Big Hop Harvest is a limited edition brew much like the Chicory red, however unlike it this one comes around once a year. The reason this is a limited release is our friends at East End Brewery have a short window of time where they can drive up to New York to pick up a batch of fresh, undried, wet hops.

The brewmaster himself took the drive up to the farm and filled his wife's Scion xB with 385lbs of fresh wet hops and updated us all over Facebook with his progress on his 12 hour trip. That's dedication, or maybe just love of the craft. I know I would love the smell inside of that car, grassy and citrusy, just wonderful. Come to think of it he recently mentioned her car still smells like wet hops.

I sat at that keg and downed about half a dozen small glasses of this wondrous brew. The flavor is a nice APA blended with a red ale, nice and toasty carmel with this great citrus grassy hop note. This dink is so well balanced, and it just dances on your tounge like a party of angels throwing a rager. Ok that's a little extreme, but I have to say it is indeed something to look forward to next season.

Friday, September 2, 2011

East End Chicory Red

Today I worked a semi retail event for my employer. This isn't terribly exciting, however the fact his brother volunteers at East End Brewery therefore he has a contact there is.
Tonight on our beer menu we had their latest session beer.  East End's sessions are normally one shot brews that you have to snag before they are gone.or else you will always have to wonder what could have been.
East End's Chicory Red has a wonderful smoothness about it. The roasted malt flavor coats your tongue just long enough till the chicory flavor hits the back of your tongue and you get this slightly spicy aftertaste that warms you up a little, just in time for fall.
That is if fall wasn't such a muggy prospect in Pittsburgh right now.  I love to sing the prases of a finely crafted brew I do have to speak of it's, um well I guess seasonality is the best way to put it. Upon starting the process of crafting this beer the brewmeister had no way of knowing that the beginning of September would feel like the middle of summer. This is a shame, because in the right atmosphere this beer would be just as comforting as a nice recliner, a tailored jacket, or even a well loved blankie.
No I don't have an awesome blankie, but sometimes I wish I did.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Tailgating Frenzy

I'm going to take this post in a slightly different direction as some of my others, I do this because I am partnering up with "Cooking for Regular Assholes" ( a blog written by a contemporary of mine who works in the food industry. While I write about the beers I enjoy he enjoys some success as someone who creates the dishes we regular assholes are normally served.

As a "Stillers" fan and part time "Yinzer" I feel it is my duty to my city to alert the world to the tradition of the Steerers Tailgate.

"Tailgating, you say? I've tailgated before, this isn't a Pittsburgh thing."

Ah but tailgating for a Steelers game is! Let me tell you a short story, My friend Marc is a diehard "Yinzer" (Pittsburgher is you want to be politically correct about it) who is holed up in FL currently with about 75% of our septuagenarians. Marc sprung for some primo seats to a Tampa Bay Buccaneers game. I may have to mention that the Steelers were in town as well. Upon entering the venue he was greeted by some fellow black and gold devotees. "We've been counting Buccs fans since we got here." "How many have you counted?" "27."

Now what does this tell us? Tampa Bay doesn't care about football? Not really i mean they put up the cash to start a team and get a stadium, right? No this tells us about the fanaticism of Steelers fans and just how nuts we get about football. You thought your college or high school was really pumped about their games, now lets imagine half a state like that. now you know why it's called the Steeler's nation.

Tailgating as a yinzer is one hell of an experience, there is food games and most of all beer. Marc may try and steal my thunder here about the focus of a tailgate, but we all know it's just once hell of an excuse to drink all day long. As a beer blogger I often joke about being an alcoholic, but to be honest, the tailgate has been the only thing that has ever gotten me drinking before noon.

In Pittsburgh when you tailgate you often see some standard faire like Coors Light and Miller Light, but quite honestly the real fans out there are drinking local brews, two to be exact IC Light and Penn Pils.

IC Light, for those of you in the know who enjoy fine beer you may cringe or laugh knowing that it is your yearly dose of Ohio river water. As well all know it's that Ohio river water that give all of us yinzers our pahers ¹. IC Light or as it's label states Iron City light, is brewed by the Iron city Brewing Company. The Iron City Brewing company has had it's ups and downs, to pittsburghers mainly downs, however if you view it from outside the city you begin to realize all of the innovations it produced, like most recently the aluminum bottle, and less recently the first snap top can. They also pioneered the use of the twist off cap and "Malt Cooler" known as Hop-N-Gator, you are welcome Smirnoff. IC light is your typical american lager, however it is not your typical light beer. While many light beers are produced as regular beers then simply watered down IC light is designed to have less calories. It;s brewing doesn't require it to be watered down and results in a fuller, less flat, taste. Though at about $20 for a 30 rack, you can't expect it to rival the Micros and Imports I usually cover. I must say however IC light has a certian Je Ne Sais Qua about it, i'm not sure what about this beer grabs me and keeps me returning to this when I need something cheap. My guess opiates.

Penn Pilsner, now I have talked about the Penn Brewery before on my review of Penn Dark. Penn Pils is the flagship product of the Penn Brewing family. Despite it's name it resembles a vienna lager more closely then a pils. However i have heard this beer described as the quintessential american pilsner, the pils that all other American pils are based off of. If this is true then they have quite a bit to stand up against. Penn Pils may not be the greatest beer under the sun, however it has a flavor that calls back the old days. All of Penn's products are brewed in accordance to the Reinheitsgebot, or German Beer Purity Laws. This means when you are tasting a Penn Brewing product you taste a little bit of history, and you get to taste a fine brew with absolutely no adulterants or filler grain. Truly a craft brew Penn Pils is my first reach at a tailgate.

¹ Yinzer pahers (powers) include the alcohol tolerance of John Belushi, the eyes of a seasoned referee, and the strategic mind of Napoleon Bonaparte (but only in football.) Oh i almost forgot, we can also make drunk calls to your sister.