Here we go again, another posting explaining why I haven't been posting. It's not an addiction, it's a lifestyle. Or vice-versa.
Details on where I been for the last several days are posted here for them as cares about such things.
Anyway, a few notes and a couple of site additions are offered forthwith to get us back in the swing of things.
I have my first 2006 bottles of my favorite pumpkin beer, Dogfish Head Pun'kin Ale, and one of my favorite holiday beers, Troegs Mad Elf, yesterday, the first to sooth my aching psyche after hours before the computer screen, the latter as a post-meal treat. For dinner itself, I contributed a bottle of Sly Fox Oktoberfest which I'd squirreled away. Not a bad beer day, that.
Earlier in the week, I cracked my second and last bottle of Heavyweight Doug's Colonial Ale, a beer I had mixed reactions to first time around but which kinda blew me away this time. While one-offs and breweries shutting down so the brewer can pursue his bliss are all fine and dandy, it sure makes for some bitter-sweet drinkin' sometimes, know what I mean?
Thank's to the apparently indefatigable Ted Johnston, who almost daily reveals himself to be a much greater beer geek than perhaps any other person I know (without, admittedly, the sly panache of the immortal Big Dan), I can report that Bourbon Baltic Porter is now on tap at Iron Hill West Chester and that Bourbon Pig Iron Porter is in the wings. Okay, this is really thanks to West Chester brew guy Chris LaPierre, who sent out the news in his email newsletter, but Johnston was all over it so fast, as he is every bit of beer information he comes across, that I can only think, comes the day the Limerick Nuclear plant goes all to hell, he'll be sitting there at his desk, glowing in the dark, wondering where he can get one last beer before he keels over.
LaPierre's email also announced that the big beers in big bottles (750ml) program at all Iron Hill sites is now approved, legal and functioning. These are a bit pricey, or at least were when I got mine, but I can highly recommend Bob Barrar's Russian Imperial Stout and Larry Horwitz's "award winning" Double (he pays me to add the words in quotes), each of which I've consumed in the last month or so.
I recently received a 46oz flip-top bottle of Budweiser Brewmasters Private Reserve 2006 (8.5% abv) and two neatly designed 22oz bottles of this year's Michelob Celebrate, Chocolate (8.5%) and Vanilla (10% abv), from the folks at Anheuser-Busch. The latter two came nicely packaged with a pair of small, tulip glasses with the word "Celebrate" embossed on them. I found all of these beers interesting and good, if not striking, last year and had both the Celebrate versions in Denver last September. These are certainly worth your trying, I suggest, and might even be, especially that Michelob package with the glasses, a excellent gift for someone you are slowly trying to ween off fizzy yellow beer. The names are familiar and the products themselves offer a hint of the possibilities.
I also received my sample sixpack of Stegmaier Holiday Warmer Olde World Ale this week and can say with relative certainty that you won't find a better bargain on the shelves this time of year. It's real fine drinkin' and it's incredibly affordable. I know they got some here for sure. Comes to that, take gander at the "New Arrivals" list on the website while you're over there; an incredible number of really good beers have arrived within the past couple of weeks. Go see Matt.
The guys at Ron's School House Grille (on Rt. 113 just before you reach Rt. 100 coming from Phoenixville and right around the corner, or close enough, from Drafting Room Exton) do just that, go see Matt I mean. They get a lot of their beers at The Beer Yard and their takeout selection gets better and better. That's where I got the DFH and Troegs beers mentioned above, along with a bottle of Stone Smoked Porter on Wednesday. Their website (which I've just added to our links list) doesn't make them look like much of a beer destination, I know, but I suspect that will change after they break through into the space next door and expand their small bar (six taps) into a much larger one. Right now, the change is expected to be completed by February; I'll keep you informed.
I kinda like Joe Sixpack's suggestion in today's column.
Finally, an email from London this morning alerted me that the latest issue (#9) of Beers of the World has just been released there. It contains my story on Fritz Maytag and Anchor Brewing and editor Sally Toms suggested I get my invoice into her hands posthaste, which I (surprise) did immediately. If so inclined, click here and you can see the contents of the issue and read the first paragraphs of my story and the others. Since this issue is out, I'm now free to post my story from issue #8 here onsite, and I have done just that, right here. Enjoy.
I'll be back when I again find the patience to go through all the frustration and time necessary to upload to the sites with Win98 (see the link in paragraph two above)...or I get a repaired or new computer, whichever happens first.
[Posted 12:42 pm edt]
14 November 2006
Triumph Update, Victory on the road.
I've just put a couple of news items up at The Beer Yard which may be of some interest.
One is a
Triumph Philadelphia pub update which also has some info on the forthcoming Red Bank, NJ, location. We call that a two-fer.
Plus here's the latest on the Victory Pilsner-tasting tour which was first batted around last Spring. It's gonna happen next April, with Barchet and Covaleksi at the helm. Not something I can afford, in either time or money, but it is definitely a trip to be envious of, with stops at Andechs and Budvar among the several on the ten-day schedule. Those were two of my favorite destination in my recent beer travels.
I think this is good news for a lot of people reading this, by the way. Just think, nearly two weeks during which Richard Ruch won't be around to send out daily (or more frequent) mass emails of bad jokes. A silver lining if ever I saw one.
[Posted 1:55 pm edt]
11 November 2006
Despite the fact that it turned out to be a beautiful day and that was the parameter I'd set for doing it, driving down to Newark, Del., to the original pub to join in the Iron Hill Tenth Anniversary Celebration, which featured the release of Fe 10, a special beer brewed for the occasion by the doo-wop trio of Mark and a Pair of Kevins (founders Mark Edelson, Kevin Davies & Kevin Finn), totally failed to float my boat this morning. The day was just too damned nice to spend up to three hours of it inside a car on some of the most annoying highways in the region.
I paid my respects to IH in my own way instead, stopping by the new Phoenixville location for lunch after a late morning visit to the Phoenixville Farmers' Market for some apples, pears and other goodies. Said lunch consisted by some wonderful Bruschetta and pint of an excellent Schwarzbier. No anniversary beer there yet, or any bottles at all, for that matter, but Nicole the bartender told me that they will be added to the mix come next week.
As I left, the thought crossed my mind that, given the wonderful food typical of all the Iron Hill pubs now being available at one end of Bridge Street and Nudy's Cafe´, the new venture by the folks who run one of the Main Line's great inexpensive dining options, offering breakfast and lunch at the other end, with the amazing Black Lab Bistro in-between, it's probably just as well that I left my nearby Oaks digs just shy of a year ago. Had I stayed, I might never have eaten at home again and been forced into getting a "real" job to pay for all the dining out.
I headed over to Sly Fox on the other side of town to get some take-out beer for the weekend, which ending up being growlers of Pughtown Porter and Oatmeal Stout (Iron Hill still maintains that silly "we only fill our own growlers" policy and, trust me, I already own enough growlers without paying for more glass) and some Dunkel Lager (love it, love it, love it in the cans) and Saison Vos for the longer haul.
Who should I find at the bar but Bill Moore and his wife, giving me an opportunity to chat with them over a glass of Grisette while I waited. Bill told me that
Tom Rupp's new brewpub is coming right along and looks really great. It's in a former hardware store and will be called Union Barrel Works. You can see the outside of place using that link above, unless, of course, Lew has updated the page recently. I think we're probably safe on that.
I finally around to the pile of beer magazines and books that have built up over the weeks since I got back from GABF and found myself scrambling to catch up. One of them was the latest issue of Malt Advocate, wherein I found a piece about The Anderson, in Fortrose, Scotland. Fans of Jim Anderson, one of the seminal figures in the birth of the modern day craft beer scene in Philadelphia, might want to check it out.
I actually worked, not all that hard, at putting together a Scotland beer and whiskey tour a while back, using The Anderson as headquarters upon arrival, mostly just by talking to the beer folks I know in these parts (the Monday Tasting Group et al) and finding a lot of interest. Until I tried to get down to specifics, that is, when all that enthusiasm just sort of withered away.
I'm probably going to do something along those lines a lot more seriously in 2007, depending upon the kindness of strangers rather than friends. Keep an eye out here for more information on that should it be the kind of thing that might interest you...or mail me and let me know you want to be kept up to date. That latter approach would, presumably, inspire me to proceed forthwith.
[Posted 3:50 pm edt]
10 November 2006
Nobody ever tells me anything...
...which is why God created Joe Sixpack. You knew there was a reason, right?
I put up story at the Beer Yard site this morning which I learned from Sixpack's site earlier. As you'll see by clicking on either link, it's about yet another new brewpub being planned for Philadelphia.
This is the old "never rains but it pours" theory in action. If all the things being talked about happen (new brewpubs from Triumph & Dock Street in addition to this one), the city will triple the number of brewpubs within its limits. Right now, I'd say that only the Triumph venture is a sure thing at this point, but I have reasonable hopes that all three will come to fruition. There's a bit of an update on the Dock Street situation, plus some other news of interest, in this story, also at the Beer Yard, posted on this past Tuesday.
Also, I just added a link to Rich Wagner's Pennsylvania Brewery Historians website under the "Beer History" section of the links column (where it should have been all along--my bad). If things go as I'm told they will, Rich and I are "collaborating" in the upcoming issue of Mid-Atlantic Brewing News, where his story of a tour of the former Schmidt's Brewery with one-time brewmaster Bill Moeller will be accompanied by my profile of that very same brewing legend.
[Posted 1:30 pm edt]
9 November 2006
Warming up to winter brews.
There's a surprisingly long and detailed article in the "Food" section of this morning's Philadelphia Inquirer by someone named Brian Rademackers. The Inky does beer features in that section with some regularly these days, but they are usually either by the paper's food and restaurant critic, Craig LaBan, or syndicated pieces. This one, all about six local beers, was clearly written exclusively for them.
The featured beers, in order of mention in the story, are Flying Fish Grand Cru Winter Reserve, River Horse Belgian Frostbite, Troegs Mad Elf Ale, Victory Old Horizontal, Weyerbacher Winter Ale and Sly Fox Dunkel Lager (the Fox gets an extra bonus with a mention of its just-released Christmas Ale).
Gene Muller, Dan Weirback (whose name is misspelled) and Brian O'Reilly are quoted in the story and there is also a sidebar headlined Cold-Weather Beers which has details on the beers individually and a photograph of each.
A Barrar kind of evening.
Anyone who's spent any time in my company, or who has explored the rest of this site or visited over here, surely can surmise that I was quite pleased with the results of Tuesday's election and became even more so with the apparent (oh hell, inevitable) take-over of the Senate as of last night. I mean, once your side has won everything there was to win, you've, um, won everything there was to win. Oddly, I even received a handful of "congratulations" emails; I mean, it isn't like I did anything.
Well, I did something. Last night, essentially exhausted after only four hours sleep election night, I decided to celebrate a bit and insure that I'd get to bed early. My choice, a bottle of the fantastic, GABF Gold Medal winning Iron Hill Russian Imperial Stout, brewed by the fantastic, GABF Gold Medal winning Bob Barrar of the Media location.
I picked up this at the Brewers Reserve bottle event at Iron Hill North Wales in June, along with a couple of others, and have been holding it for an occasion which warranted its consumption.
Like the election results, it was well worth the wait. And so were the solid seven hours of dreamless sleep I enjoyed before my smelly, eight-legged, black and hairy alarm clock went off this morning.
[Posted 9:50 am edt]
6 November 2006
Victory visit, Sly Fox change in plans.
Although I shouldn't have, since I have a Mid-Atlantic Brewing News story due tomorrow and I'm having a hard time making it work within the parameters I agreed to, and I've fallen way behind in my NaNoWriMo postings, I took part of a beautiful afternoon Saturday and drove out to Victory to sample the 2006 Hop Wallop and the new Scarlet Fire Rauchbier.
This may be the best Wallop to date, crisp and clean, with a superb grapefruit-y nose. Slightly less alcohol too, which is nice. Even served very cold, and I mean very, it was well worth the trip.
That cold thing, I assume it was the chiller over-reaching, did not serve the Rauchbier well, however, pretty much overwhelming the smoke notes to where they were discernible only with serious effort. If I'd had the time, I'd have let the glass sit for a while, but I didn't and it was so cold that try to warm it with my hands wasn't really workable. Ah well, reason to get back out there soon and that's a good thing. And the bottles of V-12 and Saison that I brung home with me will go a long way to. um, warm me up.
Bad news for anyone who might be looking forward to Sly Fox Gang Aft Agley in bottles come the Robbie Burns event in January. I put up on the Fox website a week or so back that it was going to happen, based on what I knew were the original plans but without checking with Brian. My bad. Turns out, he told me last Thursday, there's just no way make it happen, no room on the schedule and, for that matter, no room on the brewery floor.
Christmas Ale was being bottled while I was there and the only reason they had room for cases of that is that the Black Raspberry Reserve is almost all gone (grab some now if you want bottles for the holidays). Plus Phil Markowski was in earlier in the week to do the fourth Southampton Publick House brew and that's got to be bottled and stored soon.
I'll add the no-bottles news officially on the news page over there in a day or two, along with an interesting interview with Brian about the Christmas Ale, which will be released this week.
[Posted 9:45 am edt]
5 November 2006
Okay, here we are, right back where we started from. Except we're not.
Or not exactly.
As of this morning, LDO is the Home Page for www.jackcurtin.com. That's what all the fancy changes which have been going on over in the left-hand column this last week have been all about.
Here's the thing. LDO has been this site's favorite feature from the start and, since most search engines are directing potential visitors to this page anyway, why not make it the true destination page for all visitors? If nothing else, it eases my workload a bit, eliminating the picking and choosing, cutting and pasting necessary to update the Home Page regularly. I've argued almost from the first day I started trying to figure out how to build and maintain a presence on the web, that the first rule has to be to Keep It Simple (I'll forego the usual "Stupid"). Now I've done that.
The next two postings talk in more depth about all this so be sure to read them, but first the one other thing I want to explain here is that, for the next week or two, logging on to either www.jackcurtin.com or www.jackcurtin.com/liquiddiet bring you to what is essentially the Home Page. After that, going to www.jackcurtin.com/liquiddiet will take you, instead of to whatever stories/commentary/mindless blather I've put up since your last visit, to a link redirecting you to the new Home Page (this one).
It's not as confusing as I may have made it sound, really. If you've had LDO bookmarked, the best thing to do right now, trust me, is re-bookmark for the Home Page, which is where LDO will now appear. To make it easy, just click right here and bookmark that. It won't seem as if you've done anything, of course, 'cause the page you're going to looks just like this page...
You know, this seems a lot easier when I don't try to explain it. You'll figure it out. Let's move on.
But I really liked the old Home Page...
...because I was able to see right there what had changed on other parts of the site and just click and go there.
I feel your pain. Change can be annoying. The good news, though, is that you can still just "click and go there" using the links in the left-hand column right here, where I've added nice big images to make it easier than ever.
As for seeing what's changed or been added to the site, I'll try and make that easy too. Since this is the new Home Page I will add an update post, weekly or more frequently if a lot is going on, as the first entry of the day whenever enough changes warrant it, explaining what you'll find if you want to explore the landscape. Those posts, like the next posting below, will always be entitled What's New Onsite. Here's the first one...
What's New Onsite.
The second major site change (after making LDO the Home Page) is that Mermaids will now fulfill its original intention of being a personal blog, wherein I'll wax poetic, or not so much, on topics which interest me. I expect to post there two or three times a week and I hope everybody will take a peek now and then.
That's happening because I'm reviving The Great Disconnect, my former political blog, over at The Dubya Chronicles site. It seems logical, especially since I expect I'll get a bit over the top now and then as we move into the next Presidential Election, to put all the political commentary in one place for the convenience of both those who enjoy it and those who want nothing to do with it.
I am also, as you've probably noticed, adding some advertising to the site (and hope to do more) and a split between the fun stuff and the serious stuff should make that more feasible. Over at the other site, in particular, Rob Davis and I will (finally!) start offering some items based upon the bazillion or so cartoons we've done for going on six years now (okay, it's about 350 cartoons, give or take, but that's a lot) and, who knows, maybe we'll come up with a few things for this site as well.
I'll soon be adding some updates to Other Visions, the fiction section as well, but first I want to find the time to revamp the index files and structure over there to make it easier and clearer to maneuver. I have three pieces of Flash Fiction, a couple of hundred words each, under the general title "Finis" (they're about the end of...something) that will go up once the clean-up work is done, and--wonder of all wonders!--so will at least Chapter Four, maybe more, of Truth Is The Perfect Disguise. Really. And here's why...
I have signed up for National Novel Writing Month and have added that long-awaited fourth chapter to the document (not posted yet, though). Admittedly, I didn't really sign on hoping that I would write the full 50,000 to 60,000 words the event is supposed to inspire by the end of November. There were well over 100 million words already written as of last time I checked, but only 3,500 or so of them are mine. I have too much on my plate to hope to do the 2,000-plus words a day I should to keep up, but I have managed to eke out a few hundred daily so far and there appears to be a break in the schedule coming over the next week or two. Unless some additional paying assignments come in the door (which I would, obviously, prefer), I should make some real progress before the month is out. I'll be talking about NaNoWriMo a lot over at Mermaids, I expect, so you can keep track there if so inclined.
And there's your first update. Look at how easy I made it, with all the links and like that. This is gonna work. Promise. I'm even sending a tech team over to help Big Dan do the bookmark thing, just in case.
And with that, we wend our way back to actual LDO stuff in last posting of the day below.
Note: A slightly different version of the above three posts have been cross-posted at I Have Heard The Mermaids Singing,
This is the part where I came in...
Okay, now it's all LDO all the time, just the way it used to be. Grab a pint and let's talk.
First, notice the big new Beer Yard link in the link column. Now it's easier than ever to jump over there and get the latest news, events lists and new beer arrivals. I commend to one and all my Weekly Brew which appears, well, weekly in the News Section. It's where I have some fun and do some of the snarky stuff I do around here. Been addin' me a touch of snark in some of the Events and Beer stuff too, trying to make it all more fun. Don't nobody tell Matt.
I've added a link to the Christgau Beer Guide under the History heading in the links list. I think it's fair to say that Christgau, while best known as a Rock critic, is arguable one of the most important American mass-culture critics of the second half of the last century and this 1975 piece, while you'll probably disagree with much of it, is an interesting, and often amusing, snapshot of what the beer scene was like before there was a beer scene. Like the Falstaff Brewing link above it, the Christgau piece is (I hope) the beginning of a much larger History section to come.
Meanwhile, the latest issue of Beers of the World arrived this week and it has my advice on Philadelphia for the one-day beer traveler in it. You can read the beginning of that on their site, just to whet your appetite. I'll eventually put the whole thing up here but that will be when the next issue is about to appear, according to my contract with BOTW. That issue should have my Fritz Maytag story, by the way, and I have several right good (if I do say so myself) story proposals in the hands of editor Sally Toms for 2007.
They done right by me this time around, I will say, with the story covering two double page spreads with lots of full-color photos, including a magnificent shot of Standard Tap from a perspective roughy in front of The Foodery Northern Liberties and one (which I took a while back) of Rogue's Sebbie Buhler waving out from the front window of Monk's, following some great beer dinner or other. I'd have preferred them to have used a similar one I have of this guy foraging around for food scraps and half empty glasses of beer on a post-dinner table, also taken through that front window, but life doesn't always work out perfectly.
That's it, we're launched. I'll be back to posting about, of all things, beer and brewers, real soon. Meanwhile, go and sin no more...or, if you're gonna sin, at least come back and do it here so we can all have some fun.
Finally, PLEASE REMEMBER TO VOTE (that's not too political, is it?)
The complete October 2006 postings have been archived here.
[Posted 9:25 am edt]
Malt does more than Milton can
To justify God's ways to man.
--A. E. Houseman
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