Conshohocken Brewing Co. opens today.

conshyjohnandfoleyI visited the pre-opening party at the region’s newest brewery Saturday afternoon along with Steve Rubeo and Tom Foley (the latter pictured here either listening raptly or paying no attention at all to John Remington) and I was impressed by both the beers and the facility itself.  The brewery, with its a shiny new 15-barrel brewhouse and very nice tap room, is located at 739 East Elm St., about five minutes from the Schuylkill Expressway exit and just off the Valley Forge Bicycle Trail.

Co-founders Remington and Ken Buonoco are working with a large group of investors (one of whom is WIP radio personality Glen Macnow and the sports station was well represented Saturday) In addition to the “friends of Glen,” as we termed them, a notable presence was Johnny Della Pella, managing partner at Kennett, the much-praised South Philadelphia restaurant, who was helping organize things and, from what I gathered in a brief conversation, has been involved in the whole start-up process.

conshybeerboardAndrew Horne, who some of you might remember from his days at Yards Brewing, has come back home from gigs at Avery, Oscar Blues and Breakside (Portland) to man the kettles. There were seven beers on tap, all but one under 5.1% so the focus appears to be on more session-friendly styles and I tried most of them but took no specific notes. Each one was well done and full of flavor and the 4.9% Oatmeal Stout was where I started and ended so I guess that was my favorite. Check out the blackboard photo at left for the full list.

You might need your GPS to find CBC the first time you drive there but, within a few weeks and the rumored but still uncertain arrival of spring, I’m pretty sure bike trail riders will be talking it up and sending friends to visit. There’s a big window area and appealing rear deck where less active drinkers can wave to riders going by (assuming any do just go by; I’d be inclined to stop and have a brew).

The doors open to the public today at 5. Here’s the website, complete with hours of operation and a map (beer page not yet updated as this is posted). Definitely worth a visit.

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Mark this date on your calendar because there’s some amazing beer news breaking today. [Update Twice (so far) ]

Great minds think alike division.

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Going where mere print cannot.

Kindly Old Mr. Curtin wrote a feature story about the Victory Parkesburg opening for the issue of Mid-Atlantic Brewing News which is just now arriving at better bars and pubs around here, but my editors, victims of some sort of crackpot desire to have space in their pages for writers other than I (so weird), cut it to a paragraph or so and shoehorned it into my regular column.

Seems wastefully wasteful to waste all that verbiage, so here it is, unwasted.

Victory Opens Parkesburg Brewery

Victory Brewing Co.’s new 140,000 sq. ft. brewery officially opened at 3127 Lower Valley Rd. in Parkesburg on February 27, marking a major upgrade for one of the nation’s premier craft brewers. When operating at full capacity, the brewery will able to turn out 225,000 barrels annually, more than doubling the current capability in the original Downingtown plant. The expansion became imperative as a result of the brewery’s steady growth and popularity over its 18 years of existence. Victory beers will be sold in 34 states by the time we reach summer and the brand is now moving into select international markets with no signs of slowing down.

Victory Brewing's new 225,000 barrel state of the art brewing in Parkesburg. Photo Courtesy of Victory Brewing Co.

Victory Brewing’s new 225,000 barrel state of the art brewing in Parkesburg. Photo Courtesy of Victory Brewing Co.

As has already been reported many times in these pages and elsewhere, the 42-acre second location was chosen because of its similarities to the original site. Just as the Downingtown brewery recycled an old Pepperidge Farm factory, the Parkesburg brewery is built within an existing building and both are situated less than 20 miles away from the headwaters of the east and west branches of the Brandywine Creek, respectively, so that the water quality is the same at both. And the new plant has already created more than 40 fulltime jobs in the area, with more to come.

Parkesburg will now be Victory’s production brewery and bottling plant. In fact, pallets of Victory’s many popular brews already fill the warehouse, and bottles and cases roll off the state-of-the-art production line. The Downingtown location, says Victory co-founder Bill Covaleski, will be reinvented as “a research and development brewery,” which is kind of mind-blowing all by itself. Is there any comparable brewing facility of similar size and capability devoted solely to pushing the boundaries and exploring new avenues anywhere else in the nation?

Co-founder Ron Barchet notes that the new plant is based around a best-in-class German-built ROLEC brewhouse with production capacity of up to 200 barrels per batch, as well as a proprietary hop separator (named “the HopVIC”) and a hard-piped fermentation cellar featuring sixteen 1,000 barrel fermenters. Another one of the really exciting new features,” he says, “is the state-of–the-art biological acidification system, which will allow our brewers to naturally optimize pH values throughout the brewing process, yielding cleaner and fresher tasting beer.

Victory’s PR folks have also come up with some details to help us all wrap our minds around the scope this project. Among them: The lauter tun in the brewhouse is 23 feet wide, weighs 26,000lbs empty and, at full capacity will be able to brew 200 barrels of wort every two hours for beers like Prima Pils, Summer Love and Golden Monkey. That’s 6,200 gallons, or 400 x 1/2 kegs, or 2755 case equivalents, times 12 batches in 24 hours, to deliver 33,066 cases or 74,400 gallons of beer. 45,000 feet of wire is needed to connect and run the 600 foot bottling line. And each of the two largest bright beer tanks hold 1,000 barrels at once, which combined, is equal to 275 more barrels than the total number produced in Victory’s first full year in operation.

The bottling line at the new Victory Brewing Co. plant in Parkesburg. Photo courtesy of Victory Brewing Co.

The bottling line at the new Victory Brewing Co. plant in Parkesburg. Photo courtesy of Victory Brewing Co.

About the only complaint I can imagine anyone having about anything at this point is that the 10,000 sq. ft. brewpub and beer garden in Parkesburg will not open until early 2015. That means no dropping by at the bar or hunkering down for an afternoon session for another eight months at least. For now, the only way to check out the new place at all will be ticketed tours which will run on school buses from the Downingtown location twice a day every Saturday beginning in April. The ride is 20 minutes each way and will include an extensive guided tour and food and beer pairing meal afterward and is priced at $58 per person. All that will change when the full-service, on-site restaurant launches and visitors will be welcome whenever the dining room is serving to take self-guided tour.

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Push Pin Wisdom – 30 March 2014

“The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts.”

–Bertrand Russell

[This is an occasional series of snippets of wisdom, humor or dismay about the state of the world in which we live, the sorts of things we used to stick on our desk-side bulletin boards with push pins in ancient times.]

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This cartoon is quite clever and assumes readers will get the joke. Now that’s funny.

I posted this cartoon at The Book of Face this morning along with this comment:

You know what is terribly sad about this morning’s Frazz strip?

I’d wager that most readers will probably not get the joke (I’d estimate the percentage, but that way lies madness). How dare a cartoonist assume we have any cultural background in America 2014?

Shortly afterwards, as I proceeded with my routine of checking in on my list of Must-Read-Every-Morning sites, I saw that Mike Peterson had chosen that it to be the part of today’s post at his Comic Strip of the Day blog (scroll down to find it or just start reading from the top of his post, it’s all good). Mike us smarter and wiser than am I (granted, that’s not especially difficult to achieve) and this is part of what he had to say:

As much as I hate to see the education-bashers go after our schools, we sure seem to be pumping out a lot of people who genuinely, sincerely have no idea of how post-medieval science works. There is, in modern life, a similar dysfunction at both ends of the spectrum in reconciling scripture and science:

At one end are the cynics who cannot see the beauty and metaphor in scripture and rail against the obvious logical flaws of an ancient, multi-source text.

At the other are those who believe so whole-heartedly in the “inerrant truth” of scripture that they also see none of the metaphors.

For the record, I see the inerrant truth behind the metaphors, which I think is the position of most scientists who are also religious. The notion that folk tales have to be factual in order to accurately reflect social values is utter nonsense.

It is a seven year old’s magical view of reality.

“How did Noah get all the animals in the world into the ark?” is no different than “How does Santa get into our apartment, since we don’t have a chimney?”

And the creationist mind-set begins by noting that, well, on Christmas morning the stockings are full and there are presents under the tree, so, obviously, Santa Claus got into the apartment somehow.

And then it twists reality and logic in order to come up with an explanation for what it has already assumed to be true.

I definitely fall on the cynical side of that dysfunctional rift, although my issue is not so much with scripture or the attendant mythology–heck, I love that stuff and the language with which the stories are is and the metaphoric implications behind each tale–as it is with being unable to comprehend how true believers can continue to, well, believe.

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Hey, Stone Brewing, it’s Bethlehem, PA on the line.

You folks should probably just go hang at the Beer Yard site today because all the good stuff is being reported there. By me, of course. I just posted this, which is about how , to quote

The original developers behind the redevelopment of the former Bethlehem Steel plant on South Side have answered Stone Brewing Co.’s call for proposals on where it could build its first East Coast facility.

the original story is from The Morning Call and there’s a link to it from my post. Go read.

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Tired Hands doubles down in Ardmore.

I’ve posted a Main Line Times story via Instagram at the Beer Yard page about Tired Hands planning to expand its presence in Ardmore. I’m happy to see this finally make public, and not just for Jean Broillet and his team, who deserve all the success they’re enjoying.

Thing is, I’ve known about this for a while now but agreed not to release it until Jean was ready (i.e., the new lease was signed).  But I did take a chance and included the broader news (no details) in both my Celebrator Beer News and Mid-Atlantic Brewing News columns which I wrote late last month. I figured since neither brewspaper will be out until the very end of the month at the earliest, I was safe. Still I remained nervous that something would go awry.

Here’s part of what Jean told me when we talked last month:

“We’re confronting the issue of sustainability, not in the environmental sense, but in terms of what we can manage to do…In order to keep eight beers on tap and with our fermentation space, even with 9 fermenters, we can’t keep up with the business we are experiencing…. After a lot of thought, (my wife) Julie and I began searching for a larger property in the area where we could produce beer offsite and bring it in and also increase our draft presence in the Philadelphia market… I want to have more of a voice in this local beer culture which has shaped us and made me.”

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“Curtin made the world a better place.”

That’s a direct quote from the weekly “Joe Sixpack” column by Don Russell in today’s Philadelphia Daily News.



Maybe you’ll feel better when you learn that he wasn’t writing about me.*

*Although one might argue, despite Don’s opinion on the matter, that his topic is almost as  disreputable as am I.

Posted in Beer Buddies, Other Voices, WTF? | 2 Comments

Hop Bursting, it be a good thing.

As I had feared/hoped, I did open and drink that sample bottle of Stone Go To IPA last night. I found it quite enjoyable and believe that “hop bursting” was successful. As explained in the news release which arrived with the sample:

To achieve these glorious hop qualities and still maintain a low ABV, a technique called “hop bursting” was implemented. This contemporary approach involves infusion of a massive amount of hops during the final phase of the brewing process to coax out the robust flavors and aromas of the hops. Stone Go To IPA achieved its fruity, citrus notes by dry-hopping with mostly Mosaic and Citra, plus a complimentary addition of Cascade hops.
“Hop bursting really helped us overcome the challenge of making a lower alcohol full-flavored brew that doesn’t taste thin or watery,” explained Stone Brewmaster Mitch Steele. “By using this method, we created an intense hop aroma and flavor along with a smoother bitterness. We’re thrilled to add this to our regular lineup, especially since most of us at Stone are ready to call this our own personal ‘go-to’ beer.

When I say it was successful, I mean that, while not at “hop bomb” level, the hop characteristics were more prominent that one might expect from a 4.5% beer. Interestingly, at least to my palate, bitterness was significantly more subtle and subdued than all that hop flavor would suggest and I must admit I found that to be a good thing.

How does Go To IPA compare to Founder’s All Day IPA? Based on memory (I haven’t had an All Day in some time), the Founder’s version is the superior choice. I’d like to try them side by side to see if memory serves. At my age, it sometimes goes AWOL.

Posted in Breweries, First Taste, New Releases, Session Beer | 4 Comments

Push Pin Wisdom 7 Mar 2014

“The old have really no more wisdom than the young. We’re just ugly enough to look wise and not so driven by our genitalia.”

–Mark Millar (Jupiter’s Legacy)

[This is an occasional series of snippets of wisdom, humor or dismay about the state of the world in which we live, the sorts of things we used to stick on our desk-side bulletin boards with push pins in ancient times.]

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