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Liquid Diet Online

by Jack Curtin

I drink no cider,
but feast on Philadelphia beer.

--John Adams, in a letter to his wife Abigail

TAKING A BREAK. As of today, LDO is going on a brief hiatus. It will return on Sunday, June 1. Why? Most immediately, I have four stories due to various beer publications this week and next and I need to focus my attention on those. I'm also undertaking a redesign of this site and need the time to master web management and design software which, I hope, will make life a bit easier (both this and my other site moved to a new server over the past week and that has already involved more of my time and attention than I had to spare). From a longer term perspective, I'm also in the process of making some not particularly welcome but necessary choices involving the economics of the work I do and the way I do it.

Unless I'm overlooking something, the only major events that I'll miss writing about over the rest of the month are next Saturday's beer festivals at Iron Hill in Media and Ortlieb's in Pottstown. I still expect to attend one, or both, but I'm just going to enjoy them, not think about them. I like that.

Coming up this summer are several events I'm looking forward to, starting with the Pennsylvania Microbrewers Fest at Penn Brewing in Pittsburgh on June 7 (I'll be going to this one with Bryson, so keep me in your prayers). Then at the end of the month comes the 7th Annual Old Dominion Beer Festival in Ashburn, Virginia on June 27-29. Both of these will be first-time visits for me so chances are there will be stories to be told here in the aftermath. And, oh yeah, there's a little something called Friday the Firkinteenth, the only one of 2003, at the Grey Lodge Pub happening right between those two.

July will bring the Royal Stumble at Nodding Head on the 12th and the State College MicroBrewers & Importers Exposition on the 26th. The first is one of my favorites each year and the second is another new one for me. Sounds like a nice summer's work, and just in case it's not enough, darned if the Kennett Brew Fest isn't scheduled for my old home town on September 6.

Be good while I'm away and keeping checking in at The Beer Yard for the latest beer news. I'll be posting stories there whenever they happen.
[posted Sunday, May 11, 2003 9:00 am edt]

NELLY'S WORLD, AND WELCOME TO IT. A pygmy Angora darling named Nelly led from pole to pole in both heats on Sunday to earn the privilege of having Sly Fox's 2003 Maibock named in her honor. Nelly's Maibock has gone up on the beer board in the pub, thwarting for another year those nasty souls who threaten to enter animals with names like "Diacetyl" or "Putrid" or even, horror of horrors, "New Road," just to plague brewer Brian O'Reilly. Not that he gives a whit, understand. With this year's Maibock Festival and Goat Race now a matter of history (very successful history at that, perhaps the largest retail sales day in the history of the Fox) and a brand new goat puppet sent him by a bonnie lass in San Francisco in hand, O'Reilly has seen his strange bearded mammal fetish serve him well yet again.

Several hundred people gathered in Pikeland Village Square on a day that started out overcast but developed into a fine sunny afternoon, to eat German food, quaff O'Reilly's brews and enjoy the music and dance provided by Alpine Express Variety Band. All went well from beginning to end--indeed, things went entirely too smoothly for me even to have much fun with it here, which after all is what I do. Good for them, bad for me. Oh, when things got almost overwhelming about 45 minutes after the Maibock was tapped at 2:30 or so, a few plastic cups did make an appearance, and we all know how I feel about that, but these quickly disappeared. I saw but one, in fact, thrust at me by someone eager to see if I would express the same righteous indignation that I showed when served a beer in a similar cup at the Ortlieb opening. Nah. Been there, done that, got yelled at.

I know I tend to ramble on and on about many of these beer happenings (see the following section on a Beer Yard excursion to Dogfish Head a week ago Sunday as a prime example), but I've spent the better part of this day putting up whole section of the Sly Fox website devoted to an extensive photographic record of Sunday's festivities and rather than repeat myself here, I think I'll just send you over there. Not only are there photos (excellent ones taken by my crack photo team of Mary Giannopoulos and Dan "The Big One" Bengel, others taken by me) and a brief summary, but also links to two good local newspaper stories about the race which ran Sunday and Monday.

Go here and be sure to check out the pictures. There are lots and lots of them and you just might recognize some of the faces. Heck, you might even own one of them.

UNCLE SAM WANTS YOU. Long ago, when the world was new and innocent, I met a girl on a cruise ship to Europe who had this charming-at-first, maddening-after-a-while idiosyncrasy: she needed to know at all times which direction was north. "If I know where north is, I can always find my way home," she explained.

I tried to point out that such was hardly the case in the middle of the Atlantic aboard an ocean liner. To no avail. "Home" during our five-day journey was in fact a cabin two decks down and to the right, but she persisted in studying the sun during the day and the stars at night to maintain her orientation. She even approached crew members at random and inquired of them if they could provide any help. Nobody ever really complained. It is a fact of life that pretty girls can generally do as they wish.

Which brings us to Steph, who likes to spell.

I learned this while we shared the miniscule area which serves as a rear seat in Mark Sauerbrey's fancy automobile while we traveled south last Sunday to the "Italian Grandma's Dinner" at the Dogfish Head pub in Rehoboth Beach, Del. Steph was Mark's companion on the Beer Yard trip which that fine gentleman Matt Guyer had put together to go and see what Sam Calagione had up his sleeve this time. Given his size, Matt had commandeered the "shotgun" seat upfront. leaving the poor girl to wonder what she was doing in the back with this old man. And to spell.

"Vapid...v-a-p-i-d," she intoned, when that word came up in the conversation, or "individual...i-n-d-i-v..." Well, you get the idea. Who knows why? As I said, the comely do as they want and it amused her. She and Mark also enjoyed themselves making gentle fun of Your Humble Correspondent. Well, okay, sometimes not so gentle. Sometimes downright cruel, in fact. This latter, I suspect, was for Matt's benefit, as their more subtle jabs seemed to slip right by him. It could have been, I suppose, because he was still shaken by his new status as a highly respected beer expert. As you might expect, I suffered all this abuse in the dignified silence for which I am so renowned.

In any case, to Rehoboth we did go. It was beer and food that drew us, of course, but young Steph acknowledged that an opportunity to gaze upon Sam in his natural habitat was also part of her motivation. It is my understanding that such is a natural inclination of many of those of the female persuasion (and other persuasions as well, one imagines). With that in mind, I have kindly included the photo to the right for all readers of similar tendencies. Besides, its relative similarity to a classic old WW2 recruiting poster provided me with the title of this segment. You have to take whatever advantage you can in this game even if it requires pandering and feeble justifications.

Given the weather, by which I mean it was the first real spring day of 2003, we left in early morning and were in Rehoboth shortly after noon. We dragged ourselves out of the cramped vehicle, stretched in the warm bright sun, looked down the avenue toward the beach and, as is our wont, proceeded into the pub and bustled up to the bar. This provided an opportunity to try two new, just-released beers: Hommelbier, which was enjoyable enough but not all that memorable, I thought, and Pangaea, the experimental beer which reportedly contains at least one ingredient from all seven continents, which I found quite pleasant. I also had a small glass of the popular and drinkable Chocolate Mild. After a while, The Man himself arrived on the scene and we got to go outside and see the newest Dogfish Head vehicle, providing me with yet another opportunity (feeble justification alert!) to provide an additional photographic record. Offered immediately below for your edification are Mark and the lovely Steph posed in front of an unattractive something or other and Matt and the lovely Sam in front of the Dogfish Head "Iraq or Bust!" transport.

We did eventually get to the beach, of course,walking a mile or two in the sun, the bravest among us, which is to say Mark and I, often ankle deep in the freezing ocean. We also visited two other watering holes, the Rams Head Tavern, which featured beers from Fordham Brewing Company in Annapolis and bartender Palma Vincenzo Salerno (see left), and a place called Arenas, which didn't feature much of anything.

The house was full for dinner, it was, and the meal was grand, beginning with Spizzate (a traditional Easter asparagus and egg soup based on Grandma Jessie Calagione's recipe) and proceeding through Antipasto Alfonse (which brought Grandpa Alfonse Calagione into the picture with his secret dressing), Stuffed Calamari, Lasagna & Meatballs and homemade Cannoli and cookies. All this was, surprisingly enough, accompanied by large amounts of beer: Shelter Pale, Indian Brown, Raison d'Etre, 60-Minute and snifters of Olde School Barley Wine with dessert.

The Beer Yard table was enhanced by the addition of noted beer travelers Rick and Jeanne Smiledge and a couple of visiting beer purveyors from Massachusetts who've just started carrying Dogfish beers and were seriously eager to experience life at the Source. Apparently there was great fun and hilarity in the hours that followed, including a spontaneous rap contest between Sam (who else?) and one of the guys from Massachusetts on the deck. How to put this? I don't remember that at all, although I was apparently present. My memory in fact is so blank that when told about it the next morning, I didn't ask something like "they had a rap contest?" No, I asked "they have a deck?" Ah well...

Monday morning on the way back we stopped in at the new Milton brewery for a tour, conducted by head brewer Bryan Selders, who also gave us a sample, still warm and lagering, of the forthcoming Prescription Pils. Thus refreshed, we took breakfast at a right nice place called the Magnolia Street Cafe in Milton, the rest of us slept all the way home while Mark, God love him, drove. Steph, I am delighted to announce, does not spell in her sleep.

Finally, just because I can, two more photos. Immediately below we have Chef Eric Mihaly (third from left) flanked by his Aunt Mel and Aunt Lee, along with his Grandma Angelina Simeone, Sam and Grandma Jessie Calagione. Below that the wonder that was the Beer Yard table: Steph, Mark, Matt, Rick & Jeanne.

[posted Tuesday, May 6, 2003 4:30 pm edt]

Malt does more than Milton can
To justify God's ways to man.

--A. E. Houseman

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