Checking out Two Roads Brewing.

tworoadsI missed my chance to catch up with brewmaster Phil Markowksi at a press luncheon and tasting when Two Roads Brewing debuted in the Philly market a week or two, but sales rep Lee Porter was kind enough to send me some samples. These are all year-round releases: (from left to right above): Road to Ruin Double IPA (8%), Lil’ Heaven Session IPA (4.8%), No Limits Hefeweizen (5%), Worker’s Comp Saison (4.8%), Honeyspot Road White IPA (6%) and Ol’ Factory Dry-Hopped Pilsner (5%).

As you’d expect from the award-winning Markowski, all are very well made, balanced brews. I was particular taken by the Hefeweizen, perhaps a reflection of longing for the spring that appears to be happening, and, of course, the Saison from the man who wrote the book on the style.

Posted in Beer | Leave a comment

Busy, Busy Busy.

Lots going on, including a family issue, dealing with having to opt out of a beer junket as a result (and having the folks in charge not only be understanding but offer an even better option), trying to make the Mermaids site work right on social media and all that, plus more. Also, it seems that spring is over and summer ain’t comin’, which do dampen the spirit and slow things down. Posts will happen this weekend, including some great beers I have had and whatever absolutely insightful insights I can insight. Or maybe I’ll make shit up. Whatever. It will be fun. For me anyway.

Have I ever mentioned how much I hate Facebook?

Posted in Website | Leave a comment

The Mermaid swims again.

Those of you who care about such matters will note a change in the sidebar links over there. I am going to do it all over again and see if I can get it right.

Posted in Mermaids Singing, Personal, Website | 1 Comment

The grouch is not only back, he is in the house.

grouch2See the post beneath this one to make sense of it all.

Or not.

Earlier this evening. The telephone rang. A brief conversation. Shortly thereafter, a knock on the door. Troegs sales guy extraordinaire and fine human being Nick Johnson stood there with a growler of Bier de Grouch in hand (and more, but never mind that).

Would it be appropriate to presume that I inspired this bit of recognition with this exchange without the exchange (referenced in the post linked above) with My Beer Buzz?

It would be irresponsible not to.

Tonight’s NCAA National Championship Game just got a lot more enjoyable.

And for those who wonder, I did ask Nick if Troegs had any plans to ever re-brew That Other Guys’ beer.

He just laughed. Take that for what you will.

Posted in Beer Writing, Blowing My Own Horn, Good Old Days, Philly Beer Week, These Things Happened | 2 Comments

Return of the Grouch.

My Beer Buzz this morning has the most exciting and heartwarming news of…oh, I dunno…maybe the last 15 minutes or so.

From Troegs:

We released two Scratch Beers today! The first, #178 – Rye Ale features Experimental “06277” (aka “Nuggetzilla”) hops to produce a medley of delicate spices and pungent citrus fruit, while rye malt imparts a dry, spicy finish. 6.8% ABV and 54 IBU. The other, #179 – Bière de Grouch, is revisits a collaboration beer we brewed for Philly Beer Week 2012 with beer writer Jack Curtin. Just like his snark-filled rants, Jack’s beer tastes veer toward the peppery, yeasty flavor that dominates this Bière de Garde, a traditional French farmhouse style. Draft and growler fills only in the Tasting Room. 6.9% ABV and 15 IBU.

Some guy who used to write about beer and I each created a beer concept and did a brew at Tröegs for a competition to see who could sell the most beer at a Standard Tap event. I won out by, best I can recall, 4 or 5 pints. Truth be told, my big money guy was cleverer than his big money guy and that made the difference (yeah, we each had one, but those guys acted on their own accord). The victory was just, however, because I did not sneak off to the upstairs bar to buy several pints to boost my own total. I believe I am the only contestant who can say that with a clear conscience.

Good times. I sometimes wonder whatever became of that other guy.

Posted in Beer Writing, Blowing My Own Horn, Good Old Days, Philly Beer Week, These Things Happened | 2 Comments

Now you can order an IPA in Ho Chi Minh City.

I once again dropped off the face of the earth for several weeks and am not going to go through the charade of apologizing again because I have done that all too often, so let’s just agree I will post when I can and when I have something worthwhile to say or report.

Today is  a “when” day. With pictures too (all by friend of the blog Carl P., who would like to be your friend too, everybody’s friend comes to that, so beware, he will come to visit if you show any sign of weakness).

First the photos, then the details:




Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the Pasteur Street Brewing Co.  in HO Chi Minh City, Saigon, where Carl has ventured in his eternal search to have a nice day. He found it, he writes, “Tiny and hidden from the street other than the sign down an alley and some narrow stairs. The beer is GREAT!!!!”

Pasteur Street brewer Alex Violette came from the award-winning Upslope Brewing Co. in Boulder. The story about how all this happened can be found here.

Posted in Beer Buddies, Beer Travel, Breweries, Brewers, Different Strokes, Passing on the Word, Well Done | 2 Comments

Everything old is new again…eventually.

One of the reasons the Philadelphia region became a major beer destination in the late ’90s despite the fact that the craft beer scene here was still in the embryonic stage was that the city is ideally situated as port of entry for beers from Europe. Our imported beer culture, such as it was, focused almost entirely on German brands at the time, but as the Belgian beer scene exploded, Monk’s Café, through the efforts of co-founder Tom Peters, was where many of these strange new delights were bound. Michael Jackson’s regular appearances there for historic dinners sometimes featuring beers almost impossible to get in Belgium itself, much less elsewhere in the U.S., only added to the mystique. “Brussels on the Schuylkill,” as Philly was often described, might have been a somewhat audacious statement, but it was hardly a misnomer given the availability of all those rare beers.

Well, you know what they say about what goes around, right? My ever nostalgic heart went all aflutter when I received notice that Brauhaus Schmitz, the very good German bierhall on South St., is bringing two rare German beers to the U.S. for the first time ever. Rothaus Tannenzäpfle, the legendary Black Forest pilsner, made its debut in February and Füchschen Alt, which has been brewed in Düsseldorf since 1848, comes ashore in March. “Munich on the Schuylkill,” anyone?

Posted in Breweries, Cafes, Restaurants, Taverns, First Taste, Observations | 3 Comments

Troegs Cultivator Helles Bock.

troegs-beer-cultivatorHere is what I have to say about this beer.

Buy some.

It is delicious.

Really, have I ever led you wrong?

Well, except that one time….

Posted in Beer, Breweries, Brewers | Leave a comment

Sam’s a hard act to follow….

Sam Calagione, that is, whose thoughts on A-B InBev’s recent activities re: the craft world  I pointed you to yesterday, but a report in this morning’s edition of the invaluable Beer Business Daily more than lives up to the challenge and underlines one possibility which could seriously limit distribution opportunities for craft brewers. It appears that A-B is on the verge of once again pressuring its distributors to embrace the “100% share of mind” approach that August Busch III originally promulgated by enforcing the compliance aspects of its Wholesale Equity Agreement:

A-B will now be apparently performing the assessments twice a year on some wholesalers and put a large emphasis around the scoring and compliance aspects. Does that include exclusivity? One distributor told BBD that they didn’t mention exclusivity in particular, but “that’s a large part of the equity agreement….. People thought August III was tough on exclusivity, I don’t think we’ve seen anything yet.”…[A]s another distributor pointed out, the purchase of Goose Island and Blue Point and Elysian and 10 Barrel have given A-B a decent portfolio of craft brands (not to mention the CBA brands). A-B will likely use that fact to persuade wholesalers to be exclusive with A-B and all their craft brands and get those footprints fixed.


Posted in Big Blands, Breweries, Brewers, Brewpubs | 2 Comments

Promises are meant to be….

Not broken, exactly, but subject to reality. When I said in the previous item that “regular” posting would resume hereabouts, you have to first consider just how regularly I was adding something new ever before the Big Blackout and I have to come to grips with a three weeks or long phalanx of deadlines staring me in the face. Also, it’s cold and I hate that.

Anyway, I will do what I can as I can to make your visits here worth the while. For now–and this will surely brighten a few spirits–here is the indomitable Sam Calagione providing what is probably the best response to date to what seems likely to be an ongoing effort by A-B InBev to acquire or seriously invest in the world of Craft. I do think Sam, along with a lot of critics, misses the point somewhat on the Super Bowl ad imbroglio–I see it at least  in part as an attempt to give Bud drinkers and sense of community similar to that enjoyed by the Craft crowd and find nothing wrong with that, nor with the jabs made at Craft since, heaven knows, we’ve been trashing the Big Blands for years and years–but, overall, he is right on the mark on the more serious aspects.

Here’s a taste, but do click the link above and read it all…

It seems like the strategy is to let the original brick and mortar of what once was a craft brewery make their esoteric and super weird beers so it still looks like an independent brewery. Then they take two or three flagship brands and make them in the giant, fully-automatic megabreweries to sell them super cheap. This really disrupts the market, but they’d rather shine a light on esoteric stuff from a once-independent brewer.

Posted in Big Blands, Breweries, Brewers, Brewpubs, Website | Leave a comment