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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Birthday Weekend: Part I

Brewslut and I decided to take a long weekend to celebrate my 37th birthday, which occurred on March 26th... a Saturday this year.  I had a gig at Bube's Brewery on Friday night, where I enjoyed some pre-game Victory and Stoudt's beers (thanks Corty and Dinse) as well as one of Bube's house beers, Crazy Eights DIPA (thanks Ted).  I must admit that I haven't been thrilled with Bube's recent output, but I was pleasantly surprised by this hoppy offering.  While it wasn't anything mind-blowing, it boasted a sharp blend of citrus and piney hops and a sweet malt balance, and went down pretty easy for an 8% ABV brew.  (Sorry, folks... no BA review for this one, as I enjoyed it while on stage.)

After the gig, I managed to get only a few hours of sleep Friday night, because on Saturday morning, Brewslut and I were heading up to NEPA for the Annual Beer Fest at Shadowbrook Inn & Resort in Tunkhannock.  Our friends Bruce and Carrie (our hosts for the weekend) joined us, with Carrie graciously offering to "DD" for the event.  Tickets to the event were only $20 each, which I thought was quite reasonable for a four-hour event.  While I was a bit disappointed with the amount of "good" beer at the event, it was still pretty well organized, with live musical entertainment, some food and merchandise vendors, and even a hot dog eating contest (kind of dangerous, I thought, for a beer festival).  Perhaps my favorite aspect of the festival was chatting with local celebrity Bill from My Beer Buzz, a fantastic NEPA-based beer blog that was actually one of the two sites that influenced me to take up beer blogging (the other being Carolyn's great Pub Crawlin').

Enjoying some Breaker Brewing Co. beers with Bill from

For most of the afternoon, Bill, Brewslut and I were parked beside Breaker Brewing Company's display, a relatively new brewery based out of Plains, PA.  The one aspect that stuck out to me were the names of Breaker's beers and how they all incorporate a coal theme.  This struck a chord with me immediately, due to the fact that I am a bona fide coal cracker from good ol' Shamokin, PA.  I first enjoyed a few of their beers during a visit to Elmer Sudds in Wilkes-Barre, PA, about a year ago, including the cleverly named Malty Maguire (its moniker is taken from the infamous Molly Maguires, a secret group of Irish-American miners situated in the anthracite coal region who participated in militant labor union activism).  Since then, they have been on my "beer"dar, even though their beers are only scattered throughout NEPA in small quantities.  Breaker was serving four draught selections at the festival: Anthracite Ale (their flagship pale ale), I Love PA (an IPA), Black Diamond (a black IPA) and Goldies Blonde Ale (a Blonde Ale).  My favorite of the lot was Black Diamond, which boasted a damn fine hoppy aroma for a black IPA.  Typically, I find that most black IPAs feature the roast and chocolate malts more prominently, but Black Diamond was brimming with hop goodness.  The flavor was equally as hoppy, with a solid backing of coffee and chocolate, as well as slightly smokey and woody notes.

Breaker Brewing's cool coal-themed tap handles and display.

Aside from Breaker's solid line-up I was pleased to see Victory's Headwater Pale Ale and Ithaca's Flower Power IPA and Cascazilla (bottles only).  Ithaca was also pouring Ground Break on draught, an American-style Saison, which I'd never had before.  Several Sam Adams and Magic Hat offerings were also available, albeit all in bottles.  Even local yokel Stegmaier was featured prominently with a few bottled selections, including an IPA, which I was surprised to find they even brewed.  However, I was a bit perplexed by the inclusion of such offerings as Twisted Tea and Moosehead Light Lime. 

After the festival, we headed over to Perkins for a much-needed meal.  Afterwards, we stopped by the Lovelton Hotel for a few drinks, including Lionshead from a can!  I had fun playing (and winning at) darts, even though I haven't thrown darts in many years.  With cheap drinks flowing and the jukebox pumping (my tunes), we finished our night at the hotel and headed back to Bruce's well after 1am.

Stay tuned for Parts II and III of my birthday weekend to come later. 


  1. Too bad you didnt know about Stegmaier. Not sure if that's reflective of their distribution/advertising or that you are a relative beer neophyte, given they've been around for 100 years and have played an important roll in keeping the porter style (their's is world-class) alive throughout the world, as well as winning many medals at the great american beer festival.

    Think global, drink local.

  2. Hey there. Actually, I indeed know (and enjoy) Stegmaier. I was just surprised to find that they brewed an IPA and bottled it. I have enjoyed their porter for a while now, and usually get at least one every time I see it on tap. I'm from the Coal Region, so I definitely know Stegmaier! ;-) Thanks for reading.


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