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Friday, January 28, 2011

The Anomalous Olfactory Anecdotes of Brewslut

One of my favorite things about reviewing beers when brewslut (aka my wife) is in close proximity is her interesting way of describing beers’ aromas and flavors when I ask for her opinion.  This came about when she described a beer at one of Deuane’s tastings as smelling like “decomposing horsechestnuts.”  Her reputation for having peculiar tastebuds, as well as her knack for describing odd olfactory senses, soon preceded her and it eventually became a running joke of sorts amongst our circle of beer friends.  I found many of these so amusing, that, unbeknownst to her, I began to put a tag at the end of some of my beer reviews called “Brewslut’s Quote of the Day.”  So with that said, I give you an incomplete (though quite amusing) list of Brewslut’s Quote of the Day…

Sly Fox Rauchbier: "It's like drinking liquid bacon."

Oaken Barrel Snake Pit Porter: "Smells more like catbox porter."

Saint Somewhere Saison Du Chene: "This smells like the juice in a tuna can."

Marietta McLaren’s Scotch Ale: "It smells like sweatsocks."

Boulevard Long Strange Tripel: "Looks like there's tapioca suspended in there."

East End Blabber ‘n’ Smoke: "Smells like a smoked skunk."

Iron Hill Lancaster Rye IPA: "It's kind of soapy."

Lagunitas Cappuccino Stout: "I think it tastes like potatoes... boiled potatoes."

Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA: "Smells like vinegar and Easter Egg dye."

Famtone Chocolat: "Smells like liquid skunk."

Cantillon 50 Degrees North-4 Degrees East: "So I shouldn't say this smells like diaper pail?"

Great Lakes Grassroots Ale: "There's some sediment in that sucker."

Rogue Imperial Stout: "I think it smells like potato peels. Sorry!"

Rock Bottom Seismic Saison: "It smells like pickles... dill pickles."

21st Amendment Back in Black: "It has kind of a sinkwater smell."

Captain Lawrence St. Vincent’s Dubbel: "Bug spray."

Left Hand Oak Aged Imperial Stout: "Gaseous Windex."

Sly Fox Pikeland Pils: "I smell laundry detergent... like fabric softener."

Girardin Gueuze 1882 (Black Label): "This is like carbonated vinegar."

Port Brewing Midnight Expression: "It smells like pencil shavings."

Weyerbacher Quad: "Should I tell you that this smells like Aquanet hairspray?"

Boulevard Double Wide IPA: "I think it smells like the dried pineapple in our trail mix."

Highland Cold Mountain Winter Ale: "It smells like reception sticks." (Editor’s Note: “What the hell is a reception stick?!”)

Mikkeller Beer Geek Brunch Weasel: "I smell bark!"

Voodoo Pilzilla: "It smells like dried pasta."

Captail Lawrence Espresso Stout: "This is what I imagine ink would smell like in the ink well."

Founders Pale Ale: "I smell chocolate... it's the very first thing I smell." (Editor’s Note: “???????”)

Earth Bread + Brewery Santos L Halper: "It reminds me of that time you home-brewed and I got sick."

Rock Bottom Milk Chocolate Stout: "Uh-oh... a little bit of bologna."

Bullfrog Beekeeper: "I get pickled sweat socks."

Spring House Two Front Teeth: "It smells like burnt wood."

Three Floyds Moloko: "Roasted peanuts... I'm tellin' ya!"

Arbor Brewing No Parking Pilsner: "Smells like some kind of bologna."

Victory Donnybrook Stout: "It smells like suede... tastes like if you licked my purse."

Blue Point No Apologies Imperial IPA: "Mothballs."

Dock Street The Sass: "I think it smells like wet wood."

Dock Street Chupar Un Limon: "I think we need more growlers!"

Cantillon Lou Pepe Kriek: "It's like dark cherry Kool-Aid with Sour Patch Kids."

Le Grimoire Malt Aimee: "It smells like dried soybeans."

Victory Scarlet Moon: "Ring bologna... I'm telling you!"

Sly Fox O’Reilly’s Irish Stout: "That's brown sugar... the wet kind, not the dry kind."

Iron Hill Phoenixville Witbier: "I think it smells like... cereal."

Sprecher Black Bavarian: "I get a little bit of beef jerky... well, maybe not beef jerky... maybe soy sauce."

Stoudt's Heifer-in-Wheat: “It smells like licking butter.” (Editor's note: "I didn't know licking something would elicit an aroma!")

Dock Street Cuckoo’s Nest Red: "It smells a little bit like mushrooms."

Budweiser Chelada: "I have smelled vomit that was better than this."

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Imminent Liquidation... it's official!

The inaugural Central PA Bottle Share Event will take place at The General Sutter Inn/Bulls Head Public House in Lititz, PA on Saturday, March 5, 2011 between 12:00 Noon and 4:00 PM.

The event, dubbed "Imminent Liquidation," will allow craft beer enthusiasts to dust off and bring rarities from their cellars and share with fellow BAs. Never fear, if you don't have any rare beers, feel free to bring a favorite from your fridge to share. It doesn't have to be a white whale or an uber-expensive corked and caged, hand numbered, limited edition, once-and-done batch. Just bring some good beer to share with everyone!

While there is no admission cost, participants will be required to purchase a $10 gift card, which can be used at The General Sutter Inn or Bulls Head Public House for food, drink or other merchandise. Food will be available via Bulls Head's Pub Fare menu, and will be pay as you go. You are not required to buy food at the event, however.

All participants will be required to wear nametags, which will be available at the greeting table upon entry to the event. Participants will also receive one FREE raffle ticket upon entry at no additional charge. Later in the afternoon, we will raffle off a few beer-related items donated from fellow BAs and area businesses. Please note that raffle tickets will NOT be available for purchase, and each participant will receive only one raffle ticket.  ALSO, PLEASE PLAN ON BRINGING YOUR OWN TASTING GLASS.  Please try to bring a small 4oz. to half pint glass rather than a full pint glass, if possible. 

While The General Sutter does have a small parking lot in the rear of the building, space is extremely limited (only six spaces). Event parking will be limited to what is available on the streets, as well as in the school parking lot, also in the rear of The General Sutter Inn. Please plan accordingly and car-pool if possible. Make sure to bring change for the parking meters. There is a two-hour meter limit, so you may need to feed the meters throughout the afternoon.  Also, The General Sutter Inn has seventeen rooms available to accommodate those who plan to attend the event, but must travel from afar. 

Imminent Liquidation is sponsored by The General Sutter Inn and Bulls Head Public House in conjunction with The Pour Travelers beer blog.

For more information about Imminent Liquidation, please email me.  Please do not contact The General Sutter Inn directly.

The General Sutter Inn is located at 14 East Main Street, Lititz, PA. For location information or directions, please visit or call (717) 626-2115.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Taste of PA

One of my best friends and long-time bandmates, Jay, will be taking the plunge (at the ripe old age of 30) and officially exiting bachelorhood on February 26th of this year.  In lieu of a typical bridal shower, he and his fiancee Nicole decided to throw a "Jack & Jill" party (ie: a bridal shower with dudes) with the theme of "A Taste of PA," whereby they would allow guests to sample various food, beer and wine made right here in good ol' Pennsyltucky.  So when they asked me if I would be interested in serving as their resident beer connoisseur, needless to say I jumped at the chance!

The first thing I needed to do was decide on the beer selection.  I originally thought of having one style from a variety of PA breweries and brewpubs, but eventually I nixed that idea and went with pretty much the "Big Three" - Troegs, Victory and Stoudt's.  I also threw in a selection from Sly Fox, for good measure... and to show non-beer geeks that good beer can also come in that dreaded little aluminum cylinder.  So, Jay, Nicole, brewslut and I convened for a pre-tasting of sorts to sample what I had in mind.  I picked up some mixed six-packs from Al's of Hampden, and we eventually decided on getting variety cases from each of the "Big Three" breweries, plus Sly Fox Dunkel Lager, which Nicole liked the most out of all of them.  I rounded out my selection with a few bottles of Troegs Troegenator as well as Victory Storm King and Old Horizontal.

Being the anal retentive geek I am when it comes to my life's passions (music and beer), I decided to design and print some fancy but informative beer menus, complete with descriptions about each beer, its respective BA rating, ABV%, IBUs, etc.  I also included full color logos from each of the breweries!

While we had quite a bit of beer leftover (which I was allowed to take home... thanks Jay!), I think it was a positive experience for all who attempted to take the plunge into the craft beer pool, and I certainly had a lot of fun organizing it... not to mention drinking all of the beers!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Imminent Liquidation!

Get ready to mark your calendars and dust off some rare gems from your beer cellars!  I am pleased to announce that I have been successful in organizing a bottle share event for Central PA Beer Advocates!  The event will be called "Imminent Liquidation" and will be held at The General Sutter Inn in Lititz, PA on Saturday, March 5, 2011 between 12 Noon and 4pm.  Stay tuned for more details very soon!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

An hour spent @ JoBoy's in Manheim, PA

This past Saturday, brewslut and I drove to a large furniture store in Lancaster, PA to look for a wine cabinet.  On our way home, we stopped in a relatively new brewpub and Bar-B-Q spot in Manheim - JoBoy's.  We had visited once before, right after they had opened their doors for business, and they only had two beers on tap at the time.  During our visit this past weekend, I was pleased to see that they now had six beers on tap, including a special infused version of their Porter, which was basically the beer doused with a shot of chocolate raspberry port!  Brewslut likey, apparently.

I opted for the IPA, which was pretty solid overall.  Brewslut also got a short pour of the IPA, which is a rarity as the style is hit or miss with her.  They also had a new Black IPA on tap, aptly named Hopblack, which was later described by Jeff the owner/brewer as "a work in progress."  While it definitely could use some tweaking (especially in the hops department), this one has a nice roasty and chocolately malt base and shows potential.  I'll be anxious to see how this one progresses in the coming months.  When I asked Jeff about the increase in beer production, he informed me that they recently hired a few part-time brewers to assist him, as he had been brewing solo up until that point. 

Inside, the decor is comfortable and the atmosphere is conducive to drinking and conversation.  They also have a popcorn machine, which is a plus for me (especially since it's free)!  There is also plenty of parking in the rear, so you don't have to park on the narrow main street (ie: Rt. 72) outside.  Now that they are taking the necessary steps to increase production, I will likely stop in more frequently to sample their different brews.  Also, if you are into the whole Bar-B-Q scene, then I definitely recommend this place (although the only thing brewslut and I will eat is the pulled chicken).  But I've heard from a few reliable beer friends that the Bar-B-Q is some of the best around Central PA.  So stop in the next time you find yourself in or around Manheim.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Snafu IPA - another masterpiece from SGB!

I've often told friends that my favorite place in the world is Selinsgrove... not the town, mind you, but Selin's Grove Brewing Company!  I first found out about SGB back in 2006, and was surprised to learn that a brewpub existed so close to my hometown of Shamokin, PA.  So, brewslut and I decided to head up one weekend in October 2006, and we were hooked.  This little brewery in this small town produces some of the best, world-class beers in the country (hell, the WORLD!) and I am fortunate to live within 75 miles of this goldmine. 

Recently, we visited the brewpub to rekindle my romance with perhaps my favorite of all Selin's Grove's beers - Snafu IPA.  Originally released a few years ago under the moniker Olde SNAFU IPA, it was named because apparently brewer Steve made a mistake with the recipe.  The result was a tasty snafu, indeed!

Notice the empty glass in the background!

Snafu IPA is a creamy, hoppy, roasty delight!  This year's batch was extremely juicy and dripping with citrus hop goodness.  The mouthfeel was equally sublime, with a smooth, creamy texture and mild carbonation.  The faint roasted and chocolate malt character complemented the hops perfectly, resulting in a unique and delicious "black" IPA.  Let's just say it was so good, that it was all I drank during our visit!

Yup... that's some tasty-ass Snafu!

 Hopefully it will still be on tap during our next visit!  Cheers!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Al's of Hampden - The West Shore never tasted so good!

Across the pond (aka the Susquehanna River) from Harrisburg lies perhaps the greatest thing to happen to beer in the Capitol Region since Troegs.  I'm referring, of course, to Al’s of Hampden.  Located right off I-81’s Wertzville Road exit, Al’s has been in business since 2002, primarily as a pizza joint (and a great one, at that).  Legend has it that owner and proprietor Albert Kominski got attacked by the craft beer bug (a very large, dangerous one) and decided to bring in mixed six packs and, later, a selection of twelve draughts.  Fast-forward to 2011, and Al’s now boasts twenty-four tap lines (including several selections on nitro), three (yes THREE!) beer engines, coolers of take-out sixers and mix-a-six bottles, plus a fine selection of singles, bombers and 750mls.  Al’s beer menu is a virtual scoreboard of available brews on tap, including stats like the beer’s name, brewery, style category, prices for pint, 1L and standard growler fills, and even its BA score!  A growler filling machine (similar to Victory’s) will be coming soon as well.  Sheesh! 

One of my favorite things about Al’s is the special “Murren” events (named after BA Cmurren25), whereby Al fills a vessel with a specific beer and throws in additional ingredients, such as fruit, spices, etc.  Past Murren events have included a Hopsickle Murren (a hollowed out watermelon with Moylans Hopsickle), a Mad Elf Murren (Troegs Mad Elf with cherries and vanilla beans), and a Pumpkin Murren (a carved out pumpkin filled with DFH Punkin Ale and accentuated with cinnamon sticks and vanilla beans).  Stay tuned for the upcoming Choklat/Peanut Butter Murren, which will feature Southern Tier’s Choklat Imperial Stout blended with emulsified peanut butter.  You will also be able to order a PB&J version, which will have a splash of Lindemans Framboise mixed in.  Al was gracious enough to let me sample both versions in advance, and let me tell you, this is going to be off the hook!  Hey, you got your Choklat in my peanut butter!

In virtual land, Al’s website features an up-to-the-minute list of everything on draught and cask (even the ones that are kicked) even lets you vote for the beer you want to be put on next.  At Al’s, it’s a “DemHOPracy!”  You can also sign up for daily or weekly email updates so you know what’s coming and going.  Be sure to stop in on Troegs Tuesday, where you can get cheap growler fills as well as discounted Troegs draughts and bottles.  If you stop in on any given Thursday between 4 and 6pm, you’ll be sure to see yours truly enjoying a grilled chicken sub and one of the fantastic beers on tap or handpull. 

Monday, January 10, 2011

Spring House - last weekend at the barn!

I had a gig this past Friday night in Lancaster, so Brewslut and I decided to head down a bit early for what will probably be our last visit to the tasting room at Spring House Brewing Company... at least at their current location in Conestoga, PA.  Unfortunately, the last day for the tasting room will be next Saturday, January 15th.

In the next few weeks (I am hoping), Spring House will announce the grand opening of a brand new taproom at 25 West King Street in Lancaster, PA!  If you have never been to the Conestoga taproom, you should definitely try to make plans to visit this weekend (see below for contact info and hours of operation).  Set in a quaint barn-style building in rural Lancaster County, it really is one of the more unique breweries in the area.  While it will be sad to see it close, I am really excited about the new tasting room. 

Spring House is also having a "clearance sale" through January 15 to try and get rid of a bunch of merchandise to facilitate an easier move to the new location.  Prices have been slashed and you can stock up on cool Spring House gear, including $5.00 off all hoodies, $3.00 off all T-shirts and caps and $2.00 off all beanies.  Right on!  Supplies are limited, so stop in soon.

Now, it's no secret that Brewslut not only loves Kerplunk Chocolate Stout, but also Planet Bean Coffee Stout, and one of her favorite concoctions is a blend of the two, a liquid treat she's coined Kerplunk'n Bean.  OK, so it's not the actual name of the beer, but they will sell growler fills of half Kerplunk and half Planet Bean.  I already knew the Bean was close to kicking, and next up on deck was a new batch of the Smoked Porter.  However, both beers were on simultaneously when we arrived, much to my surprise.  This year's batch of Smoked Porter is much more subtle than the two previous years, which also means that it is more approachable for those casual drinkers of smoked beers.  The body seemed a bit beefier this year as well, which was nice.  Give it a shot!  Also on tap during our visit was Diabolical Doctor Wit (a very fragrant, floral and perfumy Belgian-style Witbier) and Seven Gates Pale Ale, their flagship beer (a sessionable, flavorful pale ale with a moderate hop presence). 

Hours of Operation:
Wed: 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Fri: 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Sat: 12:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Contact Spring House:
(717) 872-2454

Friday, January 7, 2011

Nugget Nectar 2011 release!

Living in Pennsylvania where the weather changes more often than most people change their underwear, there aren't many things I enjoy about the winter season.  Cold weather and snow come to mind, as well as the ensuing traffic caused by said inclement weather.  But one thing I always look forward to in January is the release of perhaps my favorite beer of all - Troegs Nugget Nectar!  Described by some beer enthusiasts as "HopBack on steroids," Nugget Nectar is an intensely hoppy Amber Ale (not an IPA as many people think) that weighs in at around 93 IBUs and utilizes a variety of hops, most notably whole leaf Nugget hops, hence the beer's moniker. 

This year, Troegs will release Nugget Nectar on Tuesday, January 11 at 10am in the tasting room at the brewery, where one will be able to purchase this liquid perfection via cases or six packs of 12oz. bottles, as well as pints and growler fills.  It goes without saying that this beer is at its peak when it's FRESH, so boogie on over to the brewery this coming Tuesday to get your Nugget Nectar fix.  I know that's where I'll be!


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Welcome Beer Geeks

Greetings craft beer enthusiasts! 

Welcome to The Pour Travelers, a new blog dedicated to beer travel, culture, humor, and the simple pleasures of imbibing craft beer.  Over the last five years, my wife (BA brewslut) and I (BA ffejherb) have immersed ourselves in the Central PA beer scene, and have met dozens - if not hundreds - of great, interesting people along the way.  My wife has even gone so far as to get a part-time job at Brass Rail Delicatessen, a local deli and bottle shop.  As for myself, I became hooked on craft beer around 2003 after discovering Troegs Nut Brown Ale (RIP) at a local restaurant in Enola, PA.  After seeking out some other local breweries, such as Selin's Grove and Bullfrog, we began traveling together to new beer establishments and brewpubs.  Eventually in October 2006, I stumbled across Beer, which propelled me into "beer geek-dom".  Quickly and in earnest, I began reviewing and critiquing craft beer and brewpubs, which proved to be a pleasant hobby (given my background in creative writing/English).  I thought, "What a way to marry two of my passions!"  So here I am.

I grew up in Shamokin, PA, a veritable vast beer wasteland where Yuengling Lager and Genesee Cream Ale was "the good stuff".  Needless to say, I didn't really develop a taste for beer until my late twenties because I just didn't know there was anything better out there in the world.  A naive notion to comprehend, I know.  To quote one of my favorite rock lyricists (and drummers), Neil Peart: "We can only grow the way the wind blows."  In other words, I only knew what I grew up learning about beer.  Better late than never, I suppose.  So now I had to make up for lost time, right?  Right!

Since we both love to travel, a few years ago we branched outside the Central PA area and began visiting towns and cities across the U.S. as beer destinations, seeking out the best brewpubs, beer bars and local watering holes.  "Beer-vana" is an endless quest, and there are simply too many good beers out there to remain unexplored.  My wife's mother once commented on a recent two-week trip to California: "Why are you going to California?"  My wife replied, "To drink beer."  Perplexed, her mother asked, "Can't you just drink beer at home?"  I guess she doesn't understand the need for beer geeks to broaden their horizons and seek out (to quote Star Trek) "new life and new civilizations."  Perhaps we aren't boldly going where no man has gone before, but we do like to get around, and get around as often as time permits. 

Introductions aside, I hope you all enjoy the blog, and I look forward to running (or stumbling) into you at the next beer event.  Cheers!