A morning with Lappy, an afternoon at TJ’s.

I was up early yesterday morning and off to Iron Hill West Chester where U.S. Army Sergeant Joshua Harry Austin, currently serving in Baghdad and home on leave, fulfilled a personal ambition by brewing a special beer alongside resident brewmaster Chris LaPierre, who pretty much let him do all the work. West Chester Server Erin Coble, a friend of Austin’s who set the whole thing up, was also on hand and got to be part of the real fun of cleaning the spent grain out of the mash tun. The story and a photo or two will be in the next Mid-Atlantic Brewing News.

On the way home, after a stop at Ron’s Original Bar & Grille to pick up a Christmas gift card for my stepdaughter and her beau, I was rung up by Big (Still Sober) Dan and, without any struggle on my part, dragooned into being part of a traveling party later in the afternoon to TJ’s Restaurant & Drinkery for the 5th Anniversary Party. By 3pm, with Cruella behind the wheel, Steve (The Lonely Other One) and Joy Rubeo and Tom Foley in tow, we were on our way.

Great event and my first time there since smoking was eliminated and what a treat that was.  We stayed about three hours and I had a chance to scarf down a couple of pints the cask British Pale Ale which Sly Fox brewed for TJ’s as their anniversary beer, which will be on tap throughout 2009 as I understand it. Excellent stuff at a sessionable 4.7%. I also had my first ever goblet of Tsjeeses, the Belgian which is all the rage among the geeks these days. Quite good but the unbridled enthusiasm do seem a bit over-wrought (Foley told me I’d understand better if I had it from a bottle). I didn’t get to eat but those who did looked delighted about it all and the dishes definitely had eye-appeal, which is half the battle.

Lots of familiar faces, as you’d expect, most notably, Beer Lass Suzanne Woods and her bevy of In Search of IPA lovelies, who showed up shortly after we did on their R5 rail crawl (Teresa’s Next Door first, then TJ’s, then the the Flying Pig Saloon). There were 11 beer-loving ladies in the group (actually, one of them was a guy who I presume may have been in pursuit of something else) and Suzanne was psyched about having thus wiped out the sad memory of only three attendees showing up for a similar event last year. Christine (The Good) Gumpper added to the IPA ladies’ ranks, driving her jeep rather than training because that is apparently what good gummpers do.

I wisely (I think) fended off Ms. Woods’ suggestion that I join their group for the rest of their journey but have to admit the idea had its appeal. I could probably have gotten a month’s worth of postings here out of that. Or at least a parking ticket (inside joke for you insiders).

As we were leaving, the esteemed Mr. Matthew Guyer was arriving. As he said, Perfect Timing.

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